I'm going to pull numbers out of thin air to illustrate the point, but it applies to anything:
Let's say you have RollerCoaster1 which loads 30 people per ride, and can dispatch 20 rides per hour (600pph 1 train, 1200pph 2 train).
Now let's say you have a line that happens to be replenishing at the exact rate it's "eating" people (600pph). Now lets say a huge group of 300 people show up at once, and the line now jumps to a half-hour wait. It will continually be a 1/2 hour wait on one train, but the line won't get longer. If they close the ride to add the second train (and do block checks and test run, which for the sake of argument lets say it takes 10 minutes). Now the wait would be 40 minutes with 1 train (30 minute wait + 10 minute downtime while people were still coming in) but now you're eating the line at twice the rate. There are still only 600pph coming into the line, so the current line will be gone in 20 minutes, and then you'll be sending out trains only 1/2 full.
I saw this happen first-hand on Thunderhawk at Dorney 2 years ago -- There was a considerable line, and I saw them add the second train (which, according to the one op, requires another attendant on the platform). Within 15 minutes of adding the 2nd train, the line was gone, and they were lucky if there were 6 people on a train. They ended up closing of the back half of each train for efficiency reasons since they have to close every seatbelt on every train.
Odd Todd said:
Think of it this way, if a person can ride everything in the park in under two hours because there are no lines, the average guest doesn't just keep re-riding the same attractions over and over again - they leave.
I'm not sure this is true. When I go to a park that's really crowded I leave a lot sooner than when I go to a park that's nice and empty.
Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."
Great Adventure was open last Saturday from 10:30a.m. to 11p.m. There's no way that most of the average guests would get there at 10:30a.m. and stay all the way to 11p.m. if they had finished all the rest of the attractions they wanted to get in by a decent hour. That's why the parking lot was relatively empty at 11a.m.
As an enthusiast, an empty park means a park I can do a "hit-and-run" on if I'm trying to get in multiple parks on a trip. Sometimes things can go wrong (as they did earlier in the summer) and plans change. Therefore, HW became a two-hour trip this time around.
The park I would most like to see go to two-train operation all the time is Knoebels. I can't tell you how many times I've been there and both Phoenix and Twister are running one train. Even if the ops are quick, it doesn't matter; you still have to wait X-amount of time for both to get back to the station.
Sounds strikingly familiar to complaints about other chains.
On the weekends when they don't offer the POP and it's pay by ride, the park is much more crowded and both coasters are running two trains. Rarely have I seen the line for Phoenix (other than during PPP) extend to the ticket taker's booth. Two weekends ago it happened (single train running on the last Sunday of the season) but that turned out to be because a group couldn't decide what row to go into and were blocking the aisle. Once they moved their asses, the line on the ramp vanished.
The complaint in this thread deals with single train op when the park is fairly crowded. Two different concepts.
It's been my experience that, for the most part, people DO know when maximum trains are not in operation. That's particularly the case when the transfer track with a stored train is visible. And I've often seen people walk out of a line because it's moving too slowly. And when that's the case, I can't help but feel that these people are disgruntled, and that's not good for a park's reputation, not that many parks seem to care about their reputation these days.
As for Knoebels, I'd heard that they run multiple trains only on non-POP days, but on my last visit, which was a POP day, they had maximum trains (including 3 on the Pioneer Train) on all rides.
My summer has seen awful operations at Kings Dominion, which I know for a fact has seen decreased attendance. I can't help but wonder if there isn't a connection.
My visit to Great Adventure saw single train operation on Rolling Thunder, and late openings for most coasters, and people in the lines that formed before the rides got around to opening were complaining.
My visit to Holiday World saw only 2 trains on Voyage, when a 3rd would've been appropriate, and 1 on Raven and Legend, with fairly long waits. Both Raven and Legend had started with 2 trains, and reduced to one. I left HW with a negative feeling as a result.
One park I hear is very consistent in maximum train operations is Hersheypark.
13 Boomerang, 9 SLC, and 8 B-TR clones
"Cuz the line would be too short, then! Yah woodent have any line at all!"
The end. The bottom line is that coaster enthusiasts such as ourselves can analyze this sort of thing to high heaven and back, but at some places there isn't that much thought put into the decision.
Not speaking for all parks or all coasters here. Just saying.
1. Staffing. Most parks require increased staff members for multiple trains. Ex: with one train you can have the loader check height. With two trains thats not possible so a height checker is needed. Also, with two trains you need to move faster loading and unloading so you should have more attendants. 3 or 4 instead of a miniumum of one or 2. Either your short on staff or you aren't budgeted for it. Its not that individual parks are bad at managing money its the overall company. Each year corporate tells you what you can spend and you have to match that number. That means you can't always staff for maximum capcity even if you want to. Most park managers want to provide the best product they can but your hands are tied by the budget number sent from corporate.
2. Maintenance. Maintenance is the main reason why you only see one train. Either the second train is being worked on or the maintenance didn't inspect it. Contrary to earlier posts the majority of the stress on a coaster (steel) is on the trains and that is where the majority of time inspecting the ride is (with wooden its the track but it HAS to be inspectd or it dosen't open at all so there is no cost savings there) The check of a steel coaster track is simple, you check electrical and hydraulic systems, the lift and the block system and the the brakes and thats it. The trains take the most time. If you can cut your time by a third by only checking one train you will. Maintenance labor is far more expensive and harder to come by than an operator making 6.15 an hour with no over time. Most of the time one train is run to save on maintenance labor. It has nothing to do with wear on the track (steel) or the air gates or anything. Its the time inspecting the train and the wear on the train. A train has more moving parts, thus more wear. With wood coasters its the same story. After the track is inspected which it has to be, if you can skimp by only checking one train it can save some time so you need fewer maintenance guys to open.
3. Ease of operation. Sometimes with light crowds its easier to run one train. If you are sending the train 3/4 empty each time then its a pain to buckle all the seat belts. (99% of six flags coasters have a seat belt to contend with.) It takes a lot of time to close and fasten empty seats so its easier to run fuller trains with one train.
Thats my take from a former full time rides manager.
Bobcoaster said:One park I hear is very consistent in maximum train operations is Hersheypark.
It is funny you mention HP because when I was there they actually had signs in front of a couple of rides that said that the line was long due to a one train operation. These were not make-shift magic-marker signs made up for an emergency; these were professionally made signs that seemed to say, "We know we are busy and there is a long line, but we don't care and will be just running one train but we want to warn you ahead of time so you either don't ride or don't complain."
Additionally, about keeping people in the park. I agree that people will leave early if the park is empty, but I don't see how it helps to just make them stand in lines longer.
In my opinion, the best way for parks to make money is to install virtual queueing systems that consistently give out about a 30-45 minute long waiting time. If the system gets backed up, patrons would still be called back in 45 minutes but would have to wait in a line. That way, you guarantee that people stay in the park at least another hour, yet they get to go out and eat and shop instead of standing in line. Have interesting shops and insanely good and reasonably priced food, and you'd do pretty well in my opinion.
At the end of the day though, remember that parks have done nothing but sit around and figure out how to maximize profits, so I'm sure all of this has been thought of and shot down at some point. *** Edited 10/6/2006 3:20:25 AM UTC by lettuce***
It is funny you mention HP because when I was there they actually had signs in front of a couple of rides that said that the line was long due to a one train operation.
I have seen that sign once before, I think at the entrance to Great Bear. But every other time I've been to HP they have been running nearly everything to max capacity. Even on SDL they always have 2 or 3 trains running. Only coaster at HP I wish ran another train is Stormrunner, which I have only ever seen running 2 trains which makes no sense with a duel loading station.
I've been there when they've used only one side of Storm Runner. Lightning Racer on many occasions uses single train operation. Once when I was in line for Lightning, they were running single trains and the ride had maybe a 6 train wait. The line was out to the center ramp (yeah really long). Some guy was complaining about waiting so long and I told him it was because they were only running a single train. He replies "aren't they running Thunder today?" OK, guess I asked for that.
I'm a big fan of pay-as-you-go parks like Knobels. Kennywood used to be like that, now you buy your ride admission at the gate instead of at the ride. Now if only parks can figure out how to trick people into paying ride admission at the gate as well as at the ride, wow, that would be wicked smart. Wouldn't you agree Gonch? *** Edited 10/6/2006 5:00:23 AM UTC by rc-madness***
But inside the first part of that post you do show some glimmer of 'getting it' - it's all about money first.
As for the second part - I've been to a few parks (most recently Beech Bend) that charge an admission at the gate even if you choose to pay per ride inside. So it looks like some of the parks already have it down...
...and yes, I agree. It is wicked smart. :)
(EDIT - and let's not forget all the upcharge rides inside parks these days that always seem to find riders)
*** Edited 10/6/2006 5:08:48 AM UTC by Lord Gonchar***
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