Background: Development of construction and operation of subway rail transit system in populated cities of middle- and high-income countries along with the increasing population of its users, have exacerbated the safety problems of the users against incidents and emergencies in subway stations. Although subway emergency evacuation is considered by the governments and subway network organizations as a critical task related to passengers' safety at the time of emergency, the risk of mass evacuation in station is undeniable. The main objective of this study is to identify factors affecting safe evacuation of the population from subway station and to propose the strategies for addressing them based on experiences or opinions of stakeholders in Tehran Subways, Iran.
Methods: This is a qualitative study that was conducted between January 2017 and December 2018, in which a semi-structured interview was conducted for 17 participants among the senior managers, executive managers, subway station operations staff, and subway passengers in Tehran subway stations, in the Capital of Iran. In order to analyze the data of this qualitative study, the Graneheim and Lundman method was used and manifested content analysis approach was employed.
Results: Based on the findings of this study, the factors affecting safe evacuation of the population from subways station were identified in four main categories covering passengers, organization, communications, and environment. Then the main categories of "culture, interaction and cooperation of passengers", "correct and timely decision-making", "notification", and "location of emergency evacuation" were emerged as safe emergency evacuation challenges and the most important findings of this study; and strategies were proposed to improve the safety of passengers at emergency evacuation of subway stations.
Conclusions: In the present study, the lack of safe approach to improving passengers' safety in the development plan of Tehran subway rail transit network is a major concern for managers and operations staff. Therefore, changing the attitude of policy makers from focusing on the quantitative development of passenger transportation services to improving safety and then the quality of passengers' trip is taken into account as an urgent need to improve the safety of subway passengers.
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