Hubs are the next big thing. The idea of providing a concentration of mobility services in one place is emerging as a way of creating sustainable public transport systems. When reimagined as ‘mobility hubs’, car parks are no longer just places to store vehicles. Instead they become positive space that offer co-located public and shared transport services. Mobility hubs thus represent the next step in the evolution of park & ride services, which could become complex interchanges where people can seamlessly switch between cars, buses, trains, cycles, scooters and walking.
The Mobility Hubs 2022 conference took place in London on 25 May. This sector-defining Landor LINKS event covered the convergence of public transport, cycling, shared cars, micromobility services, urban logistics, the electrification of transport and ways of delivering Mobility as a Service (MaaS). In discussions about mobility hubs there is a lot of focus on hubs as being ‘Car Park Version 2.0’, but they do not need to be off-street. The evolution of parklets into kerbside mobility hubs is already taking place on our streets.
One strength of the word ‘hub’ is that, compared to car park, it is such as a flexible term. While the focus of the conference programme was on mobility hubs, the day added terms such as ‘service hubs’, ‘EV hubs’, ‘energy superhubs’, ‘work hubs’ and ‘study hubs’ to what is an emerging lexicon. This is seen in the growing number of electric vehicle hubs that offer drivers access to banks of chargepoints at destinations such as shopping centres or in service area facilities on motorways and major roads. Meanwhile, the emergence of service hubs is seeing often underused spaces in car parks being converted into last-mile logistics bases, or being used as ‘dark kitchens’ that cook meals delivered by a growing number of food services.
As the event programmer, it was satisfying that a day about enabling connections helped people from a wide range of sectors connect. Like its subject matter, Mobility Hubs itself became a meeting place for parking, property, mobility and payment technology specialists. The end of the Mobility Hubs conference thus felt like the start of a journey. I learned a lot and see there is much more to be discussed. It is clear there are many other themes we can develop in the sequel. Watch this particular parking space for details.
Mark Moran is the founding editor of Parking Review
TransportXtra is part of Landor LINKS
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