Transport Integration

With the public transports attracting over 50% of all journeys within the urban area the Swiss city of Zürich has the (western world's) most successful urban transport system.

At its heart is an integrated network of electric street transports (trams & trolleybuses) and electric mainline railways which are knitted together by an integrated multi-modal ticketing system that positively encourages people to make extensive use of the transports.

Zürich's 'Klusplatz' stop - an excellent example of a simple suburban transport 'nodal point'
Zürich's 'Klusplatz' stop is an excellent example of a simple suburban transport 'nodal point' where three city tram services, a suburban trolleybus and several regional motorbuses all share a terminus that was designed to make interchange as easy as possible. Its facilities include a newsagent's kiosk, waiting room, ticket machines, telephones, toilets and a taxi rank.
To minimize interchange waiting time the various services shown here are co-ordinated to arrive within a few minutes of each other.

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What Does "Transport Integration" Mean?

Transport Integration means that whatever modes or types of transport (rail, road, water, 'niche', air) are involved they all operate as one 'seamless' entity - for the benefit of the fare paying customer.

Private transport usually provides 'door to door' transport (albeit with a walk between the car park and ultimate destination) and whilst this is not always a realistic possibility for public transport the concept of 'transport integration' is to provide a 'seamless' journey that is as 'door to door' as possible.

This is achieved by planning services so that where a change of vehicle is required passengers can enjoy easy to use, pleasant & sheltered interchange facilities plus short waits for the next service. Furthermore, just as when a motorist buys fuel they do so once for the whole journey so with passenger transport the passenger should be able to benefit from through 'one purchase' ticketing for the whole journey.

The importance of through ticketing is looked at on the Fares & Ticketing Systems pages. (OK so sometimes motorists have to pay a 'toll' to use a specific section of road - usually a bridge or tunnel - but in Britain we do not (yet) pay to tolls to use our main highways. As for paying parking charges - with public transport you are not driving so do not need to worry about parking charges).

Public transport can often be thought of rather like a tree, with a large trunk that feeds into smaller branches, and ultimately, twigs.

InterCity railways represent the trunks; high capacity urban, suburban and underground rail systems represent the major branches; monorails, rural railways and urban tramways represent the smaller branches, etc., down to low capacity small minibuses and automated 'cabin' transports for the twigs.

As with trees all these components are important to the overall health of the system; so whilst the 'chopping-off' (closure) of a few smaller branches may not appear to have an immediate negative effect ultimately it will harm the whole entity - as experience in Britain with the many railway branch-line, tramway and trolleybus closures in the 1950's and 1960's has demonstrated with the present-day severe traffic congestion experienced in many areas.

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Sometimes trains become delayed and run late - even in Switzerland! However what is important is how the train operator reacts / treats the passengers to help ensure they suffer minimal inconvenience.

In Switzerland they will hold connecting trains for delayed passengers - even though the next service might be 30-60 minutes later - as the Swiss know that whilst journey times are important, for many passengers the journey may require a transfer to a connecting service, and ultimately it is the overall journey time which matters the most.

Meanwhile here in Britain the system works in the opposite way and with the exception perhaps of the few connections which are guaranteed in the timetable the system is designed to financially penalise (by fining) British train operators if they hold their trains to await late running services. This policy can and occasionally does leave some passengers stranded. This arrangement gives rise to the assumption that as long as train operators are making money, the stock market is doing well and shareholders are earning big dividends, so all is well. The inconvenience to passengers from missed connections and consequential late arrivals is seen as being of secondary importance. If they are fortunate the passengers will be able to claim compensation.

Transport Integration Examples

Between Street Transports (Trams & Buses) And Trains

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Düsseldorf, Germany. For ease of interchange the street trams are located in a large pedestrian piazza right outside the main railway station's front entrance. This is accepted practice in most large European cities. Salzburg, Austria. The same theme but solely with trolleybuses. For the passengers' convenience the two island platforms also feature direct steps / escalator access to the local railway, which here is located underground.
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Montréal, Canada - easy interchange between the buses and the Métro (right), which to protect it from the snowy winters is fully enclosed.

A train can be seen in the station (more easily perhaps on the clickable larger version of this image).
Toronto, Canada. Combined bus / subway station - as with many of Toronto's well-planned interchanges passengers entering from the street pass through the ticket turnstiles and then turn left for the street transport (in this case buses) or right for the subway. Having the bus stop within the station's 'fare paid' zone also means that when interchanging between the modes even single-trip 'cash' fare passengers do not need to pay a second fare.
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Brentwood station, Calgary, Canada - a high level walkway links the light rail with feeder buses and car parks. Escalators, fixed steps and a lift (elevator) give people of every mobility complete freedom of movement between the high level walkway and light rail platforms.
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The Dutch often design interchange stations on the principle of one transport being grade separated so that it can cross another transport at an angle, as this helps create the possibility of easy interchange with the minimum of walking distance.

This example comes from Amsterdam.
Essen, Germany. For the passengers' convenience the bus stops right outside the suburban railway station entrance. NB The clickable large image has been sourced from S-VHS-C videotape and is a little fuzzy.
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Croydon, England - a 3 track tram station right outside the main (East) Croydon mainline railway station - not seen is the bus station, this being about a minute's walk away. Croydon, England - an example showing easy interchange between trams and buses at a location where the two travel on a parallel road / tramway. The bus stop for the other direction is on the other side of the road / just next to the traffic signalled pedestrian crossing, whilst the other directions' tram stop is just out of sight immediately to the right of this tram.

Within Stations - Between Different Types Of Rail Services

Wherever possible the optimum interchange will be either of the 'cross platform' or 'same level' types.

Both imply that passengers will not (usually) need to negotiate any steps, the difference being that 'cross platform' interchanges usually involve just a few metres walk across a platform to the other side whilst 'same level' interchanges will require a short walk along a passageway or to a completely different part of the platform.

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At Barking, Essex the eastbound District Line trains provide cross platform interchange with mainline services on both sides. The platform on the near side serves trains heading towards Southend-on-Sea whilst the platform on the far side is the terminus for trains on the London Overground service to Gospel Oak. Cross platform interchange on a cold snowy afternoon between the Tunnelbanan (underground) and Nockebybanan light rail line at Alvik station, Stockholm, Sweden. As this is the trams' terminus arriving tramcars deposit passengers at the correct platform to interchange with city-bound Tunnelbana trains and then shunt into this platform where they wait for out-bound passengers.
When this webpage was first created the caption for the Barking station image above - left included this text: a quiet (because trains are too infrequent and poorly promoted) urban service which uses 'pay trains' - the passengers pay their fare to a conductor and not at the station. This text was accurate at the time the photograph was taken, however since then the service became part of the London Overground network, it was given some brand new trains, all stations were given ticket gates and the service frequency was enhanced to every 15 minutes. As a result passenger numbers have surged and the line is now so busy that in 2018 it will be receiving a fleet of brand new electric trains which are also longer than the existing diesel trains, plus a service frequency enhancement is also being considered.
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A split level platform separated by steps and ramps (further along platform) provides interchange between trams designed for kerb-height boarding and light rail vehicles designed for high-platforms in Essen, Germany. Same - level interchange between two different lines on the London Underground. The two sets of platforms are in individual tunnels linked by cross passages.

Amsterdam Duivendrecht Station Is An Excellent Example Of A Fully Integrated Interchange Station That Was Designed
To Be Easy To Use... In The Days Of Paper Ticketing... But Is Less Easy Now Passengers Must Use Smart Card Ticketing

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Left: At the upper level there are two island platforms with each being designed for very simple cross-platform interchange between metro and longer distance trains travelling in the same direction; the metro's trains are shorter and its platforms do not extend beyond the station roof.

Right: At the lower level are platforms for trains on a different route.
The concourse between these platforms has the steps / lifts etc; to the upper level platforms.

An Example Of Ticketing Fragmentation - Rather Than Integration!

With the introduction of the electronic 'smart card' ticketing system known as OV-chipkaart passengers in the Amsterdam area using stations such as Duivendrecht where there are different types of railway behind the one ticket gateline MUST ensure that when entering or leaving the station they use the correct OV-chipkaart card readers for the transport they are using.

If interchanging between different types of train then they MUST use the correct card readers on the platforms, in the correct order, to check out (end) the journey they have just made and then check in (start) the journey they are about to make. Even if it means missing a train, they must do this first - such hassles did not exist when passengers used paper tickets!

Seamless through tickets do not exist, so all interchanging passengers must use the platform card readers.

Note that the smart card system was designed to be Orwellian and even passengers with prepaid season tickets must check in/out as described here. Even at stations which just have free-standing card readers instead of ticket gates.

Woe betide those passengers who get things wrong / use the wrong card readers or in the wrong order / do not check in/out - this could result in an expensive mistake.

Fares and ticketing systems are looked at on the
Fares & Ticketing Systems pages.

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Two card readers side by side, one for the metro, the other for the mainline railways - this being something that has to be done this way because of the different value of the deposits taken when checking in and refunded (less travel costs) when checking out.

Image by Flckr user hilderik71 © Copyright hilderik71. With many thanks for allowing me to use it.

The smart cards are more or less universal, for many passengers they can be used on either type of railway service - it is the confusion caused by a need to select the correct card reader and requirement that even prepaid season ticket holders do this which degrades the overall journey experience.

Interchange Facilities With Other Modes Of Transport

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A suburban railway / metro station in Amsterdam, Holland. The Dutch love their cycles, and to help encourage more people to use this mode of transport frequently locate secure cycle parking areas outside suburban railway stations. Sydney's Circular Quay is an excellent example of a rail / boat interchange point. NB The clickable large image has been sourced from S-VHS-C videotape and is a little fuzzy.

Rail-air integration at Amsterdam Schipol airport.
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The station and airport are one structure - nothing could make life easier!

  1. Ticket sales desks for railway passengers.
  2. The platforms are directly below this concourse, and these are the ways down to them. Note the barriers to stop luggage trolleys, which should use the lifts.
  3. There are also several sets of lifts which also link the concourse with the platforms. Not just for special needs passengers but also to allow passengers with luggage on trolleys to gain access to the platforms. Note that the lift has see-through walls. The idea is that the visibility increases personal safety for lift users and deters those who might commit a crime if the lift had opaque walls.
  4. Right next door are the airport check-in and arrivals lounges - this view shows terminals one and two.

    Not seen in the above picture is a shopping centre which, like the railway station and airport, is also part of the same integrated complex.

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This page last updated 1st May 2017 (a few text tweaks).
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