A major challenge for urban transport policy is to encourage intermodal journeys and reduce congestion. Part of the solution lies in providing attractive interchanges between the different transport modes. However, there is evidence that those who plan, design, build and manage interchanges lack guidance on the needs of users, and on how best to meet those needs at a specific site.
PIRATE aimed to analyse a sample of European interchanges to assess the extent and efficiency with which the needs of the various stakeholders are actually being met, and then to develop and test an innovative approach to defining and providing for those needs. This approach would directly involve stakeholders in the improvement or redevelopment of interchanges.
PIRATE compiled evidence from surveys made in Belgium (Antwerp, Mechelen, Hasselt), the United Kingdom (Adwick, Doncaster), Sweden (Vellinge Angar, Lund), Spain (Getafe, Majadahonda, Mendez Alvaro, Moncloa), Germany (Aachen), and Lithuania (Riga).
A gap analysis revealed the perceptions of the various stakeholder groups towards the importance and performance of all aspects and features of the interchange. The views of four groups were considered:
- people involved in the planning and construction of interchanges;
- people who work in an interchange (including managers, vehicle drivers and subcontractor service staff); people who use an interchange for travel, shopping or social purposes, categorised as
- walk and ride users
- park and ride / kiss and ride users
- bike and ride users
- ride and ride between the same or different public transport modes;
- people who are non users or potential users.
The analysis showed general agreement at all sites and across all stakeholder groups about the high importance of safety/security, information and car parking. However, infrastructure design experts emphasised the aspects of layout, location and the quality of connections, while users had more uniform concerns across all characteristics of interchanges, with preference for comfort and safety issues. Certain characteristics - surveillance, toilets, traffic and travel information, cleanliness and security against theft and vandalism - were perceived to perform poorly at a number of sites.
PIRATE then developed an innovative 'planning approach', in which the users and non-users are involved in the process of planning new or improved facilities.
Application of the 'planning approach' again showed significant differences between the priorities of infrastructure designers and users. The divergences are greater on matters of design, location and internal layout of the interchange than on security and operational matters. However, effective solutions to these design issues should be achievable through consultation processes.
PIRATE has produced a handbook in hard copy and CD-ROM format detailing the planning methods and the case study results.
PIRATE has demonstrated the potential for more efficient and successful development of public transport interchanges by involving various stakeholder groups in the design processes, and has developed a cost-effective method of user research to assist the providers of interchanges in improving their services.