Photo: Tom Scott/YouTube

This Bizarre Elevator Moves Up and Down and Left and Right - and You Can Ride It

News Art + Architecture
by Morgane Croissant Oct 6, 2021

Germany likes a bizarre elevator. It’s got a few underwater elevators in the Baltic Sea and it also got the Schmid Peoplemover, an elevator that moves up and down and left and right.

The Schmid Peoplemover is a unique design. It is an elevator that goes both vertically and horizontally without stopping when it changes direction. Three Schmid Peoplemovers have ever been built and only two are currently in use.

To see what it’s really like to ride in this bizarre elevator (and to figure out how it works), YouTuber Tom Scott went to visit the largest Schmid Peoplemover out there, located at a train station in Altbach, Germany. He even talked to the brilliant mind behind the invention: Emil Schmid.

The Schmid Peoplemover that Tom Scott rode is meant to facilitate traffic from one platform of the train station to the opposite one in a safe, elevated way; that way, people won’t have to dangerously cross the train tracks on foot. Of course, an underground passageway or a footbridge could have been built to remedy the issue, but what’s the fun in that? Also, it only took three hours to set up the Schmid Peoplemover — a timeline no footbridge and underpass can beat.

And beyond being fun, innovative, and quick to install, the Schmid Peoplemover is also practical for train passengers with mobility issues. How is a person in a wheelchair supposed to cross a footbridge or an underpass, both of which involve two sets of stairs? With the Schmid Peoplemover, people with disabilities can travel in the elevator from one side of the train station to the other side safely and independently.

The downside is the fact that this bizarre elevator is rare piece of machinery that requires specially trained technicians when repairs are needed. Also, while it’s broken down, there’s no alternative for the public to get to the other side.

The Schmid Peoplemover is not perfect, but it’s an invention that is elegant and practical in many ways. And if you want to see it with your own eyes and ride it, you can. All you need to go is get yourself to Germany.

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