Interchange between services is an inescapable feature of urban public transport journeys. This almost inevitably introduces some walking and waiting time for the passenger, and there may be other negative aspects of the interchanges themselves. The proportion of journeys that involve interchange ranges from less than ten percent to more than fifty percent, according to the city. The promotion of urban public transport would benefit from improving the quality of interchanges - and this needs the dissemination of good practice on interchange design.
The main objective of GUIDE was to develop and disseminate guidance on good practice in the functional specification and design aspects of passenger interchanges, based on case study evidence, both for the network-wide level and for the individual location level.
GUIDE concluded that improving interchanges at a network-wide level requires:
- a definition of the strategic public transport network, which identifies the demand for interchanges;
- an overall information strategy for the network, covering pre-trip and real-time information;
- a system of quality standards to monitor the performance of interchanges;
- fare and ticketing policies that minimise the barriers to interchange between services;
- organisation and management structures that can take an integrated view of the interchange within the network as a whole;
- the promotion of co-ordination arrangements at the location-specific level.
By comparison, improving interchanges at individual locations requires:
- matching the design and layout to user needs;
- developing the interchange to promote access to the public transport network, which is often a more important role than transfer between services;
- improving accessibility for those with special needs;
- commercial exploitation to finance the infrastructure and provide facilities and an attractive image;
- good signs and other information services within the interchange area;
- design features and staffing to combat crime and the fear of crime.
GUIDE has presented these and other recommendations in a guide to good practice, available on the web. Case studies are also reported, concerning London, Birmingham and Manchester (UK), Utrecht and Amsterdam (NL), Paris (FR), Athens (GR) and Stockholm (SE).
The GUIDE handbook identifies public-private partnerships as an increasingly important factor in the development of interchanges, in line with the increasing interest in such partnerships in other areas of urban public transport.
GUIDE recommended the development of a European standard for signing schemes that would cover all public transport modes. The standard might provide a moderate number of pictograms, colour schemes, font designs and sizes. Individual operators would then incorporate these basic principles when developing their individual signage schemes.