Sustainability, the work-life balance and new post-pandemic habits – our travel patterns certainly are changing. RISE has helped two municipalities develop a concept for future mobility hubs that are anything but your typical windy town square.
Close your eyes and imagine an airport or train station (as they were before, prior to the pandemic). It’s a beautiful warm day. The sun is shining. You can see a bookstore, pharmacy, some cafes and other vendors. It’s a lovely place, offering many services. It’s also a hub, where you can switch between the various modes of transport.
But on a cold and windy, dark November afternoon, as you wait for the bus home, it is anything but cosy! In the future though, it doesn’t have to be like this. Because, the concept of mobility hubs in society is starting to take root.
– “Mobility hubs are places where you have access to, and can switch between, the various modes of transport. But they are also places that can help us achieve that work-life balance each of is striving for,” says Maria Schnurr, Senior Researcher at RISE.
Concept for future hubs
How though, does one go about creating a mobility hub that meets the needs of every stakeholder? RISE has collaborated in a project with both Linköping and Nacka municipalities and OKQ8 (gas and convenience store chain) to develop a concept for future mobility hubs. For Maria Schnurr and her team, the work has involved analysing the prerequisites and coming up with different concepts. Drawings of the concepts have been created by the Danish firm of architects, Arup.
– “Municipalities want their residents to become less dependent on cars. They also want to make their cities more vibrant. Fuel companies, on the other hand, need and want to develop their business models so that they can survive in a future where fewer people are driving cars,” she says.
Most important of all is to consider the user needs
Start with user needs
What though, are the most important things to consider when designing a mobility hub, regardless of whether it’s a suburban town square or petrol station at a commuter parking lot?
– “Most important of all is to consider the user needs. What do they need help with? Which services would they appreciate having access to?” she says.
With that insight, one quickly realizes that there will be more than one perfect concept when it comes to mobility hubs. Each one will have to be adapted to the location and needs of the people who use it.
– “It must also be designed for flexibility, so that it can be adapted as the needs and circumstances change. People’s needs might change. There might be a desire to test new modes of transport. Or, it might be something so simple as requiring more space in summer for parking bicycles than you have in winter,” she says.
Not just for cities
Mobility hubs aren’t just a concept for bigger cities and towns either.
– “More rural municipalities are looking into this too. But for them, it is perhaps more an issue of lowering people’s dependency on cars, which is more of an issue in rural areas, along with creating attractive places where a variety of services can be offered,” she says.
Regardless of the location or motive however, they all have one thing in common: a mobility hub must be designed as a single entity, where it is simple and easy to switch between the various modes of transport.
– “It’s also important to factor in and design hubs as places where people want to spend time, rather than places they want to leave so that they can get home as quickly as possible,” she says.