Mobility hubs create space designed specifically to house public and shared mobility modes and improve the public realm for local residents and businesses as well as travellers. Mobility hubs bring together public transport stops for buses, trams and trains with bike share schemes, car clubs, e-scooters, electric vehicle charging points, bike racks and shared taxi rides.
Hubs can also provide community facilities such as cafés, fitness areas, green space, package collection points and Wi-Fi and phone charging – all with covered waiting areas, real-time journey planning information, walking areas and disabled access. Mobility hubs contribute to the goal of ‘20-minute neighbourhoods’ which enable people to live, learn, and meet their needs within a short walk of their home.
Mobility hubs have appeared in many European and North American cities, and could soon be seen in Scotland. The hub concept has been championed by transport charity Collaborative Mobility UK (CoMoUK), which is now working with the Scottish Government to develop guidance and a framework as part of a strategic transport projects review.
CoMoUK believes the Scottish project could build on the trend sparked by the coronavirus pandemic for people staying and working more locally, reducing the need to travel unsustainably and re-energising towns to help local businesses recover. The charity says mobility hubs in Germany and Austria are already helping revitalise city centres.
Lorna Finlayson, Scotland director of CoMoUK, said: “There have never been so many pressing reasons why we need to rethink how we move and allocate street space to travel – from addressing air quality problems; decarbonisation of the transport sector; supporting the active travel agenda; decongesting and revitalising city centres, and helping local businesses. The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we move around, and it’s vital that as we recover we properly manage space for public transport and shared mobility modes as an alternative to private cars.
“Public transport is the original shared mode, however, the lines between public and shared transport are blurring – there are many new shared modes from bike share schemes to car clubs which are changing behaviour and user needs. We look forward to working with the Scottish Government to introduce mobility hubs here and learn from our European neighbours on how to transform the way we get around our cities.”
A shared vision for Scotland
A strategic review of commissioned by Transport Scotland has identified a key role for mobility hubs. Transport Scotland is the national transport agency for Scotland, and is responsible for delivering the Scottish Government’s vision for transport. In 2019, Transport Scotland commenced the second Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2), a project to help inform transport investment in Scotland for the next 20 years. STPR2 will help to deliver the vision, priorities and outcomes for transport set out in the National Transport Strategy (NTS2) and align with other national plans such as the National Planning Framework (NPF4) and the Climate Change Plan.
A STPR2 project update written by consultants Jacobs and Aecom, states that one of the major barriers to public transport uptake historically has been connectivity and lack of convenient end-to-end travel options. They also suggest that there is a strong possibility that the COVID-19 pandemic would result in a change in travel patterns through increased home-working, resulting in greater reliance on local facilities.
The consultants wrote: “The creation of high-quality mobility hubs across Scotland will support the priorities of the NTS2 by increasing the attractiveness of public transport by increasing connectivity, improving links between public transport modes, active travel and shared transport options, and promoting seamless travel opportunities, particularly for those without access to a car.
“There is evidence that the COVID-19 pandemic will result in a reduction in public transport use, with potentially long-lasting impacts; establishing multi-modal transport hubs could mitigate this by improving connectivity. To ensure the effectiveness of the mobility hubs, a guidance and appraisal framework will be developed, building on work developed elsewhere, to facilitate the creation of a number of mobility hubs across Scotland.”
Jacobs and Aecom recommended that Transport Scotland produce best practice guidance and an appraisal framework for mobility hubs in Scotland in collaboration with stakeholders. This would facilitate the creation of high quality mobility hubs and produce outcomes that align with the sustainable travel and investment hierarchies and the NTS2 outcomes.
The consultants state: “There is no ‘one-size fits all’ model for the hubs, as the form must take cognisance of the local environment, and existing active travel and public transport provision. As a result, the initial work would involve a review of projects being delivered and development of a Scottish guidance and appraisal framework to provide a coordinated and consistent approach for the delivery of future facilities which contribute to the STPR2 objectives and sustainable travel hierarchy. This framework would allow robust assessment of future funding decisions on mobility hubs and determination of the most appropriate locations and facilities.”
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a two-stage approach has been adopted for producing STPR2, with Phase 1 reporting to the original timescale of winter 2020-21 and Phase 2 reporting later in 2021 to inform the Scottish Government’s future investment plans and spending reviews.
Mobility hubs create space designed specifically to house public transport alongside active and shared mobility modes whilst improving the public realm. The concept is being applied to the streetscape in many European and North American cities. Mobility hubs offer a convenient, comfortable and safe environment in which people can access a range of sustainable modes. In addition, they support low-car lifestyles while the reallocation of space from car parking to housing or public realm improvements benefit local residents and businesses.
Mobility hubs share a number of commonly found features:
Learning about mobility hubs
CoMoUK has created a guidance document that provides an overview of mobility hubs and to share best practice from partners. The Mobility Hub Guidance publication and online resources provide an outline of the potential components for mobility hubs in a number of different contexts. The guidance includes case studies from across Europe and tips on implementation.
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