Wednesday, 28 April 2010

The Great (Train) Toilet Conundrum

I'm sure I'm not the first person to wonder about this, but why do they have three buttons to operate the door on a train toilet? There's an 'open door' button, a 'close door' button and a 'lock door' button. So... who exactly is there out there that wants to go inside the train toilet, close the door, but not lock it? I am struggling to think of a single scenario in which that particular option would be useful.

Presumably it would be just as easy to design the buttons so that the 'close' button also automatically locks the door, so someone, somewhere made a conscious decision not to do this. Any suggestions why?

Addendum (05/05): After dicussing this with Andy at lunch, we came up with one plausible(ish) explanation for why someone might decide to do this: if the button automatically locked the door, then pressing the button on the way out with have undesirable consequences. Of course, there are about a thousand ways these undesirable consequences could be avoided, and none of them seem as undesirable as the current worst-case scenario, but it is at least a plausible way in which someone might have stumbled across such crappy design.


Brog said...

walked in on someone in the train toilet today.
not the first time it's happened.
no idea why they do this.

Anonymous said...

Children. Just yesterday I watched a family get hysterical because a smallish child locked herself in a toilet. I imagine that a mother standing outside a toilet while her child uses it would prefer the child not have to lock the door.

Anonymous said...

It's for a variety if reasons. You've pointed out one i.e malicious closing of the door on exiting would render the toilet out of use. Yes you can have sensors to detect if anybody is present but then this poses other problems relating to potential failure of the sensors etc. it's about mitigating failures and preventing misuse. The reason buttons are used instead of physical bolts or similar is for people with reduced mobility to be able to use the toilet as well, that can mean someone with severe arthritis as well as wheelchair users. Trust me there are several reasons, all alternatives have been considered and rejected for good reason.

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