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Photo by Jake Weirick on Unsplash

By Saish Bhise

Mumbai, also dubbed as the financial capital of India is home to a vast network of urban transit systems. Countless residents, dubbed as Mumbaikars, depend on this system for their daily office commute. The transit system, popularly known as Mumbai Local was built by the British in 1853. The system, popularly known as Mumbai Local, ferries about 7.5 mn commuters daily, all since April 1853.

Running the Mumbai Local is not at all a rosy affair. There is a barrage of problems, the most pertinent among them is death due to crossing. To curb the rising menace of jaywalking on the railway tracks, an additional railway staff was deployed to man vulnerable points. But, with all the extra effort, only a nominal dip was seen in the deaths. Moreover, deploying additional railway staff at all vulnerable crossings is not feasible.

Instead, a Mumbai based "behaviour architecture" consultancy firm named Final Mile came up with a rather unique solution. The railway sleepers are painted bright yellow at definite intervals and a signboard is put up, signalling loco pilots to use a staccato horn. The results are astonishing, there was a drastic fall of up to 80 per cent in deaths due to crossings. The consultancy firm behind this project, Final Mile, used lessons on cognitive psychology to influence people on the verge of making decisions.

People in a hurry to board a train in rural India.Photo by Kashish Lamba on Unsplash

Railway sleepers painted bright yellow at definite intervals gives a good frame of reference to the jaywalker. This frame of reference helps the person to correctly estimate the speed of the incoming train. Moreover, a signboard, promoting the loco pilots to use a staccato horn was also put up there. A staccato horn is usually a short burst of consecutive horns. A long, un-interrupting horn doesn't yield much attention as a staccato horn. Supplementing, the above-mentioned ideas, an additional initiative was put up Final Mile. It included putting up signboards depicting the final gruesome moments of a man being mowed down by a train.

Humans are still humans and are bound to make mistakes. The whole idea here is not to completely stop deaths, it is nearly impossible. But instead, it is to nudge the jaywalker cognitively before he decides to take the fatal step. Bright yellow sleepers, staccato horns and cautioning billboards collectively have reduced deaths by a whopping 80 per cent. This experiment should be mass-produced at every vulnerable crossing in India.


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