Transforming our approach to transport interchanges

Rail Project Director, Simon Nicholls, looks at how revolutionising the customer experience at interchanges is the key challenge to improving the efficiency of our transport networks and making public transport attractive:

“Liveability, sustainability and prosperity. These are the goals for our cities, but the challenge is to determine how these ideals can be achieved and balanced in the light of our growing populations.  Public transport can play a significant role by improving the efficiency of movement around our major cities, thereby reducing journey times and minimising our environmental footprint.

To meet the needs of our growing population, transport infrastructure projects are delivering new roads, metros and light rail networks in many of our major cities.  The boom in construction of transport infrastructure will lead to more complex networks and multiple operators.  The challenge is how to ensure that we can maximise the efficiency of these networks to increase patronage and utilisation.

The options for improving patronage can either be through penal measures, such as congestion taxes or road usage charges or through improving the attractiveness of public transport.  Penal measures, while effective, are unpopular and the challenge is to ensure public transport can be the preferred mode.

To make public transport attractive, we need to challenge the long-held notion that end-to-end journeys on a single mode of transport are the best option.   The heart of the issue is the negative experiences customers have historically had in changing modes of transport.  Revolutionising customer experience at interchanges is the key.

Significant investment is needed in our key interchange hubs to make them a positive experience;
• We need to embrace the difficult challenge of public car parks (paid or not) and provide sufficient capacity for commuters;
• We need to ensure that our interchanges are safe, well-lit and have good wayfinding and passenger information;
• Development at and around the interchanges (both commercial and residential) should be encouraged; and  
• There needs to be coordination between operators to ensure that customers can transfer quickly.

If our interchanges are customer focussed, with reliable and frequent services it will enable our transport services to be more efficient and hence more attractive.  With public transport taking an increasing load, this will in turn improve the prosperity, liveability and sustainability of our cities.

It is time to invest in our interchanges."