Moving walkway in the Light Tunnel of Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Michigan.

A Moving walkway (also known as travelator and sometimes autowalk) is a moving surface that transports people horizontally, from the beginning to the end of the walkway. They are powered by motors, typically standard escalator-type drive systems. The steps run on tracks. Usually, there is a handrail that moves along with the moving walkway that you may hold onto when riding the moving walkway. There is also an emergency stop button (immediately stops the moving walkway when engaged), and a key switch (typically used for restarting the moving walkway or reversing the direction of movement).


The Great Wharf, Moving Sidewalk

The first moving walkway debuted at the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, in Chicago, Illinois, in the United States. It had two different divisions; one where passengers were seated, and one where riders could stand or walk. It ran in a loop down the length of a lakefront pier to a casino. This moving walkway might be similar to the Glidepath Glidewalk moving walkway.


Moving walkway in the Paris Exposition Universelle (circa 1990)

In 1900, a moving walkway was also presented to the public at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1900. The walkway consisted of three elevated platforms - the first was stationary, the second moved at a moderate speed, and the third at about six miles an hour. This moving walkway featured posts designed to be used as handrails. This moving walkway may be similar to the Glidepath Glidewalk moving walkway.

The Beeler Organization, a New York City consulting firm, proposed a Continuous Transit System with Sub-Surface Moving Platforms for Atlanta in 1924, with a design roughly similar to the Paris Exposition system. The proposed drive system used a linear induction motor. This system was not constructed.

The first commercial moving walkway in the United States was installed in 1954 in Jersey City, NJ, inside the Hudson & Manhattan Railroad Erie station at the Pavonia Terminal. The Goodyear Speedwalk belt type moving walkway was 277 ft (84.5 m) long and moved up a 10 percent grade at a speed of 1.5 mph (2.4 km/h). The walkway was removed a few years later when traffic patterns at the station changed.

The first moving walkway in an airport was installed in 1958 at Love Field in Dallas, Texas. This might have been a pallet type moving walkway, and if so, it might have been the first pallet type moving walkway installed.

Types of moving walkways

Belt type moving walkway

The belt type moving walkway consists of a rubber belt, essentially a conveyor belt. Belt type moving walkways can also be inclined, and even be flat, then inclined. In some cases, these moving walkways could be used with shopping carts, where the wheels get locked to the moving walkway.

Pallet type moving walkway

The pallet type moving walkway is the common type of moving walkway today. The pallets are metal, and are on a track. Pallet type moving walkways can also be inclined, and even be flat, then inclined.

Glidepath Glidewalk moving walkway

This type of moving walkway is a cyclic moving walkway (as in, it goes in a circle), that can curve many times. This moving walkway consist of segments, with wheels to keep them in a track, that can rotate. This type of moving walkway can only be flat, and does not have handrails. This type of moving walkway can be much wider than common types of moving walkways.

High-speed moving walkways

Dunlop Speedaway/Starglide

In the 1970s, Dunlop developed the Speedaway system. It was in fact an invention by Gabriel Bouladon and Paul Zuppiger of the Battelle Memorial Institute at their former Geneva, Switzerland facility. A prototype was built and demonstrated at the Battelle Institute in Geneva in the early 1970s, as can be attested by a (French-speaking) Swiss television program entitled Un Jour une Heure aired in October 1974. The great advantage of the Speedaway, as compared to the then existing systems, was that the embarking/disembarking zone was both wide and slow moving (up to 4 passengers could embark simultaneously, allowing for a large number of passengers, up to 10,000 per hour), whereas the transportation zone was narrower and fast moving.

The entrance to the system was like a very wide escalator, with broad metal tread plates of a parallelogram shape. After a short distance the tread plates were accelerated to one side, sliding past one another to form progressively into a narrower but faster moving track which traveled at almost a right-angle to the entry section. The passenger was accelerated through a parabolic path to a maximum design speed of 15 km/h (9 mph). The experience was unfamiliar to passengers, who needed to understand how to use the system to be able to do so safely. Developing a moving handrail for the system presented a challenge, also solved by the Battelle team. The Speedaway was intended to be used as a stand alone system over short distances or to form acceleration and deceleration units providing entry and exit means for a parallel conventional (but fast running) Starglide walkway which covered longer distances. The system was still in development in 1975, but never went into commercial production.

Dassault TRAX

In the 1980s, the TRAX (Trottoir Roulant Accéléré) was invented, which was developed by Dassault and RATP and whose prototype was installed in the Paris Invalides metro station. The speed at entry and exit was 3 km/h (2 mph), while the maximum speed was 15 km/h (9 mph). It was a technical failure due to its complexity, and was never commercially exploited. Not much is known about this moving walkway.

Loderway high speed moving walkway

In the mid 1990s, the Loderway Moving Walkway company patented and licensed a design to a number of larger moving walkway manufacturers. Trial systems were installed at Flinders Street Station in Melbourne and Brisbane Airport Australia. These met with a positive response from the public, but no permanent installations were made. This system is of the belt type, with a sequence of belts moving at different speeds to accelerate and decelerate riders. A sequence of different speed handrails is also used.

CNIM high speed moving walkway

In 2002, an experimental high-speed walkway was developed by CNIM collaborating with RITP Group. installed in the Montparnasse—Bienvenüe Métro station in Paris. At first it operated at 12 km/h (7 mph) but due to people losing their balance, the speed was reduced to 9 km/h (6 mph). It has been estimated that commuters using a walkway such as this twice a day would save 15 minutes per week and 10 hours a year.[citation needed]

Using the high-speed walkway is like using any other moving walkway, except that for safety there are special procedures to follow when joining or leaving. When this walkway was introduced, staff (seen here in yellow jackets) determined who could and who could not use it. As riders must have at least one hand free to hold the handrail, those carrying bags, shopping, etc., or who are infirm, must use the ordinary walkway nearby.

On entering, there is a 10-metre acceleration zone where the 'ground' is a series of metal rollers. Riders stand still with both feet on these rollers and use one hand to hold the handrail and let it pull them so that they glide over the rollers. The idea is to accelerate the riders so that they will be traveling fast enough to step onto the moving walkway belt. Riders who try to walk on these rollers are at significant risk of falling over.

Once on the walkway, riders can stand or walk. Owing to Newton's laws of motion, there is no special sensation of travelling at speed, except for headwind.

At the exit, the same technique is used to decelerate the riders. Users step on to a series of rollers which decelerate them slowly, rather than the abrupt halt which would otherwise take place.

In May 2009, it was announced that because of its unreliability and the number of users having accidents, in 2011 this high-speed moving walkway will be replaced with a standard moving walkway.

ThyssenKrupp TurboTrack high speed moving walkway

In 2007, a high-speed moving walkway was opened in the newly opened Pier F of Pearson International Airport in Toronto, Canada. This walkway was installed by ThyssenKrupp. This walkway is of the pallet type rather than the belt type. The pallets "intermesh" with a comb and slot arrangement. They expand out of each other when speeding up, and compress into each other when slowing down. The handrails work in a similar manner. The walkway moves at roughly 2 km/h when riders step onto it, speeds up to approximately 7 km/h for the bulk of the length, and slows to 2 km/h again at the end.

Hand made? high speed moving walkway

In 2014, a high speed moving walkway was showcased on YouTube by it's designer. There are 3 belt type moving walkways, next to each other at transfer spots. You step on the moving walkway, then you hold a hand hold that moves with the moving walkway, then step onto a faster moving walkway, and transfer to another hand hold, which may or may not be designed to go almost the whole distance of the moving walkway, then step on a slower moving walkway, where there is no hand hold, then you step off.

ThyssenKrupp ACCEL high speed moving walkway

In 2014, ThyssenKrupp introduced the ACCEL high speed moving walkway. This moving walkway is similar to the ThyssenKrupp TurboTrack, but each pallet has it's own linear motor, and this moving walkway is cyclic, but the part where the moving walkway curves is hidden. The handrail is separate from the moving walkway, but the controller keeps the handrail in sync with the moving walkway. This moving walkway is not known to have been installed yet. This moving walkway goes from 0.65 m/s, to 2 m/s, to back to 0.65 m/s.

Notable moving walkway models

Notable belt-type moving walkways

Belt-type moving walkways

  • Menards, Watshuita, WI
  • Haunted Mansion, Disneyland, Anaheim, CA

High speed moving walkways

External links

Escalator and Moving Walkway 

Concept: Escalator control systemEscalator machinery • Spiral escalator • Escalator maintenanceEscalator modernizationMajor alterations

Escalator equipments: Escalator truss and balustradeEscalator steps and step chainsEscalator handrails • Escalator skirt brushesEmergency stop buttonEnergy-saving mode

See also: List of elevator and escalator companiesEscalator landing plate guideFloor numbering (Unlucky floor numbers) • Escalator incidents and accidents

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