Halts, Stops & Stations

As part of the overall transport infrastructure the Stops and Stations are the systems' FRONT DOOR and as such need to convey a smart, enticing image that will make them pleasant places to visit - otherwise potential passengers will be deterred from using the transport before even before they see a vehicle.

Equally important however is that the transport comes at the expected times as passengers do not (usually) want to take up residence!!!

Navigating through this website is easier with the navigator frame which should be to the left of this window. If it is not there then click here to turn it on! Alternatively there is a system map at the foot of this page.

More information about this website & why it was created can be found by visiting this website's "front" pages (link opens in a new window) ..

Many images are "clickable" - run the mouse over them and if a "hand" appears then click & a larger version will open in a new window! .

Page Index.

Direct links to other pages within the theme...

Illustrated "index page" image information (starting from the top left and working clockwise):-

A montage of images showing bus + tram + railway stops, stations and shelters plus station platform food sales outlet.
Click image - or here - to see a larger version in a new window. .
Corporate style station building (London); food outlet on railway station platform (London); passengers warily negotiate the gap between a sharply curved platform and the train (London); bus stop on a Bus Rapid Transit kerb guided busway (Edinburgh); shared tram and trolleybus stop (Zürich), railway station with "real time" information (London); light rail platform shelter (Portland); high-floor street-based light rail stop (Calgary); low-floor street-based tram stop (Nottingham); well preserved Victorian - era station with full length platform shelters (London); [centre image:-] bus stop shelter with "real time" information (London).

I n f o r m a t i o n

Public transport is not just for transport staff, regular passengers or "anorak clad transport spotters (sic)" - it is for everyone. But if transport information is about as easy to obtain as highly-classified military intelligence then many potential passengers simply won't use it.

To be effective transport information must :-
Be provided at every stop and station,
Be accurate,
Be updated as soon as timetables and / or routes change,
Be relevant to the location,
Be easy to read,
Be understandable.

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Route maps are especially appreciated by visitors who are unfamiliar with the network.

Good information is also especially appreciated by visitors who will otherwise shun the transports out of a fear of catching the wrong service and ending up somewhere they do not want to be; and, worse still, not knowing how to either retrace their steps or use alternative services to reach their intended destination. (In other words, becoming lost and stranded).

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Information posters from bus stop shelters (above) and railway station platforms (below.)
The clickable images are large enough for some of the posters to be read - especially the poster about bus route 201. .

It is questionable whether politicians and civil servants will understand just how much the information on the bus route 201 poster represents
what is known as a 'dis-integrated' transport policy of the type that is directly attributable to increased traffic congestion as people switch from
public transport to private cars.
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Local information display at Bank Underground station
in the heart of London's financial district showing a
street map and local bus services.
This station platform seat and posters were seen at Epping station on the London Underground. Bus route 201 was the replacement for the Epping-Ongar railway service which was closed in 1984.
The clickable larger image is larger than normal and has been darkened, so that the poster message can be read ..

In areas where different roads are served by buses for many different destinations (but no single bus stop serves all these buses) then a bus stop identification system backed up at all the stops with maps and indexes can help passengers to find the correct bus stop(s) for their intended journey. This explains why some of the London bus stop flags seen on this page show letters (eg: "D" or "L") above them.

Subterranean railway stations often feature a labyrinth-like network of (hopefully not secret) passageways between the platforms, ticket halls and street entrances. Therefore to help prevent passengers from becoming lost in the tunnels good signage is essential!

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Left: Although this type of information can often be located in the bus stop shelters another option is for the poles to which the bus stop flags are attached to include information panels displaying local maps which identify the location of other bus stops in the area (ie: bus stops for services which serve different destinations) and possibly even where there are local shops from where off-vehicle tickets can be purchased.

Centre: Often these information panels will also display timetables and other service information. The example seen here benefits from night-time illumination, which is powered by solar energy and uses soft blue LED lights.

Right: A wall-mounted enamel information display designed to help passengers find their way around what is a large and very busy subterranean station which has a veritable warren of passageways plus many street entry / exit points. Provided passengers have an idea where they wish to go (ie: know the road names) then displays such as this can be sufficient, although sometimes floor-plan style maps showing businesses near to the various street exits can be of benefit as well.
This specific information panel also features illuminated arrows for different (opposite) directions. This is because the optimal walking routes vary between weekdays and weekends, when there are fewer people passing through and one of the ticket halls plus bank of lifts down to the platforms are not used. Exit number 7 is not listed here because it is behind me - which also explains the blue (daylight) reflection.

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This montage shows passenger information on a high-profile British bus system; the information includes:-
Left: real time service information,   Centre: timetables and other information,
Right: and a local area map showing an approximate walking duration from the bus stop.

Real-time 'next service' information is of EXTREME importance.

Perhaps the most significant deterrent to enticing more people to use buses is the often interminable wait for one to turn up. OK, so buses get stuck in traffic, the 'pay on entry' system often causes extended delays to the journey or our fellow passengers leave a little to be desired (as once suggested by Steven Norris - former Government Transport Minister); however NOTHING bar NOTHING is worse than the period of time spent between one's arrival at the bus / tram stop (rail station, etc;) and the arrival of the transport.

Railways often equip their station platforms with electronic displays detailing the destination and anticipated minutes before the next trains are due to arrive; it is about time this feature became standard at bus stops too. Experience has shown that most people see paper timetables as nothing more than wishful thinking, whereas where electronic real time displays have been installed not only do passengers have confidence that a bus will be coming (even if there is going to be a 15 minute wait, at least there is confidence that it will eventually arrive) but that as a result patronage on the routes served has increased. Indeed, such is the importance of making a similar investment for buses that it should become a legal requirement, which - if necessary - is funded out of windfall oil revenues.

In some areas telephone information services and / or internet pages also provide passenger information, this may be fine for people setting off from home but how many people want to keep phoning information lines or internet service providers just to go out? Its far easier to take the car! Plus, apart from North America local calls are often chargeable!

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A variable message display offering real-time passenger information on the London Underground. The lower line (with the green coloured writing) is often used to provide scrolling messages with other useful information. In some cities some bus stops also offer similar information. However its high time this became universal nationwide. Here too the lowest line sometimes shows scrolling message with service information, etc.
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click for soundclipAs part of an experiment in the 1990's which seems to have not been validated, this bus bus stop also offered push-button audio information for the blind. Click the image or speaker icon to hear the announcement - this will download a 155kb file named "bus_stop.mp3". Touch-screen passenger information system at a
leisure-orientated event in Glasgow in 1988.

Whilst at a bus exhibition in November 2016 an exhibitor told me about the added features available with the seats which they supply to the bus industry. Although not everything he said would be appropriate for urban short-distance buses, the technological advances and possibilities that he detailed certainly sounded very impressive!

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  • the seats have sensors which can be used to show the bus driver which seats are occupied and which are vacant - this is done via a simple seating map such as is used by airlines when passengers select seats for their flights
  • the same sensors also make it possible for bus stop 'next bus' information to include the number of vacant seats in the information offered to waiting passengers - although possibly not if they are close to each other or scattered throughout the bus
  • sensors in the seat belts can advise the bus driver which passengers are using seat belts and whether they have been properly fastened

Where trains do not stop at all stations (or serve many destinations from the same platform)
the passengers also need to know the approaching train's destination and stopping pattern.

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Two contrasts for multiple destination / stopping pattern trains.
The version on the left shows the stations NOT served by the train (but due to lamp failure two station names are not illuminated) whilst the other display shows ONLY the stations that ARE served by the train. As the images below suggest, whilst television-type screens can show a much wider range of information they are only viewable by passengers standing directly below them.
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A 'flip dot' information display (left) and a television style VDU (visual display unit) information display (right). See text below for more information.

It does not always follow that newer technology is 'better' than older technology. The information display seen in the image above left was of an older design and as part of an 'improvement' scheme was replaced with a 'higher-tech' display which in the image which above right can just about be seen under the 'customer information' sign. Alas, from where I was standing the information it desplayed was totally invisible! It was not even to work-out the information from the pattern of the text - even if a distance away from the sign regular passengers easily worked out station names from their length and character patterns and spacings.

These images were photographed at London's Stratford station on a platform where passengers enjoy cross-platform interchange between Underground and mainline trains - the latter serving a wide variety of destinations, often with differing stopping patterns too (especially in the rush hours 'fast' and 'slow' trains use the same platform).

Often the interchanges are made hurriedly (ie: as the underground train is arriving so the mainline train is already in the station and the station staff are blowing their whistles for it to close its doors and depart) and passengers need to know immediately whether the mainline train will be serving the station to which they are travelling. Traipsing up to the TV display is not as option - as by then the train will have left the station.

Following the introduction of the television style displays it became easier to ask other passengers already on the train where it is going, as it was only through their replies that interchanging passengers could discover whether the train would be serving the station to which they wish to travel.

London mainline 'next train' describer. Brussels metro 'next train' describer.
In their early days the railways were noted for unifying time throughout Great Britain - so that nationwide timetables could be introduced - however sometimes it does still seem as if the older system of time set locally still survives... why else would the second train be set to come before the first? A solution used on the metro in Brussels, Belgium, sees a combination of an alphanumeric display which details the destination of the first two trains above which there is a route diagram with small lights that illuminate as the trains progress along their allotted route(s).

Also note how the section of route 'in the opposite direction' / 'which the train has now passed' is coloured in grey, whilst the section of route that is 'yet to be travelled' is in full colour.

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click me for video A short video showing showing the Brussels train describer in action has been placed on the ‘YouTube’ film / video website and can be watched by clicking either the projector icon or this link - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2I5Cz2mVMg ..
The trains are moving from left to right.

Stop & Station Location

Finding the Bus Stop

Many of these comments will also apply to trams / streetcars when they are operating within the street environment.

Perhaps this will seem a trite strange, but before potential passengers even start trying to use buses they must first find that the transport exists - and usually the way to do this is by locating a bus stop! This especially applies to buses which do not use any fixed infrastructure power system (ie: fossil fuel and battery electric buses) as trolleybuses (and usually trams as well) have overhead power wires which at least inform / remind the passengers that the transport exists.

Admittedly the lack of fixed bus-stop infrastructure does provide a headache for hail & ride services which will stop "anywhere where it is safe to do so", so good local publicity is also important - in some areas the transport operators also locate timetables & publicity information on street lamp posts.

Promotional sign for the Fareham-Gosport Eclipse BRT (Bus Rapid Transit / Transport) bus stop on the wall at one end of the underpass below a busy road close to Fareham railway station.
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In London every bus stop is clearly identified (plus at night some are even illuminated using solar energy) and although there are several variants of the bus stop flag depending of the type of the bus stop ("request" or "compulsory") they are all instantly recognisable as bus stop signs. For a bus to call at a "request" bus stop a waiting passenger must wave their arm to literally flag it down or a passenger travelling on the bus pushes one of the "next stop" buttons. For many years bus stop flags outside of London used to contain a pictograph of a single deck bus, although in some places this is no longer the situation.

Note how these bus stop flags also advise passengers where the stop is (white writing on grey background - in this instance Gants Hill Station) then below that advises of the major destination(s) of the buses which serve that stop and below that the numbers of the bus routes which call here. The letter "L" (above left) is part of a system to help people find bus stops within a locality - this is further explained in the i-n-f-o-r-m-a-t-i-o-n section above. Click here to see it.
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By way of a contrast to London these stop flags from Turin (Torino), Italy show another option, which is to both list services which call here and some of the roads served by the transports (buses / trams) which call here (sideways, on the left of the stop names). The image on the right shows the night-time illumination.

Well then, this is novel - since when did "The Red Lion" mean "bus stop"?? OK, so there IS a timetable display half way up the sign post but until the bus was seen actually calling here only well informed local people would have known that there was a bus stop here.

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Another contrast comes from the Austrian city of Salzburg where this integral sign comes complete with illuminated displays advising passengers of the time before the bus arrives. Displays such as this are only suitable for places where the local transports see little change over the years, as otherwise they would need frequent replacement. In Britain bus deregulation means that services can change at just 42 days notice. A pub sign which also doubles up as a bus stop sign - but only local people who are 'in the know' will know this!

Seen in the small village of Avebury, which is globally renown for its ancient standing stones and crop 'circle' formations. As with London visitors come here - and the nearby Silbury Hill (where I saw my first flying saucer) & Stonehenge, which is too far away to reach by walking - from every corner of the globe... and beyond!

Usually bus stops are located next to the inside (kerbside) lane of the road, as on wider roads or where the bus has an off-road pull-in this allows other traffic to continue flowing whilst the bus is stationary.

Where the roads are equipped with bus-only traffic lanes these too are usually located on the inside (kerbside) lane as this too is convenient for calling at kerbside bus stops. However, often these bus lanes become blocked by parked vehicles, forcing buses to divert to the next lane, a process that usually causes delays to buses and other road users alike.

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The bus could not enter the bus stop, because another vehicle was blocking it. So instead it stopped in the middle of the road, forcing all other traffic to wait until it is ready to continue its journey. In an effort to deter illegal parking from blocking it and make it easier to re-enter the traffic flow after calling here this bus stop has a footpath extension.

As a contrast trams frequently use the road centre and at stops passengers must either step out into the traffic flow or, if there is space and they are fortunate there will be a small kerbed area (like a low level railway platform) on which they can await the arrival of the transport, board / alight etc., in safety.

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Because they run on rails trams cannot just switch lanes to call at kerbside tram stops. On narrower roads there may not be space for both road traffic and safe waiting & boarding areas so the solution most frequently adopted is to require the passengers to walk out into the road. In situations such as this the road traffic is supposed to stop until the tram pulls away again. Where possible it is obviously better to provide safe boarding areas, which is easy here as the trams (operating in light rail mode) are using a fully segregated median located between the two roadways of a dual carriageway. No-one appears to want this Düsseldorf, Germany service because route U77 is an express (limited stop) service and it does not call here!

There is no reason why bus lanes cannot be located down the middle of the road like trams - although this will require the installation of island loading platforms and is therefore only a solution for wider roads. The first island platform illustrated here comes from the Swiss city of Geneva and is at the end of a bus lane that is located in the road centre because the stalls from a street market use the kerb lane.

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Bus stop island platform in Geneva. Market Street, San Francisco.

The next picture comes from Market Street, San Francisco. Here trolleybuses have their wiring arranged so that they can use either the centre or kerbside lanes. As is visible in the picture there is a speed restriction of 10mph for vehicles passing the island platform on its kerbside while a vehicle is stopped with passengers boarding / alighting. This road is also used by streetcars (trams), serving the island platform only.

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Bus stops are always easy to find when the buses share stop facilities with trams. Experience has also shown that passenger safety is enhanced when bus passengers use island platforms such as shown here.
These images come from Zürich, Switzerland (left) and Krakow, Poland (right).   Krakow image courtesy of Jacek Makuch.

Road Centre - or Kerbside?

To some people the thought of always having to cross half the road to board a bus sounds might seem somewhat strange, even though no-one thinks twice of crossing all of the road if the direction of the traffic flow means the bus stop they wish to use is on the other side of the road. There is some evidence that far more passengers have accidents when they jump off a bus at a kerbside bus stop and immediately pass behind / in front of it and start crossing both traffic streams (without even thinking to look and see if it is safe) than ever happened in the days when many British cities had tram systems where the tramstops required passengers to walk out into the middle of the road.

There is more on bus lanes and illegal parking on a dedicated Parking page whilst the light rail and compatibility with street traffic page looks at more solutions for light rail stops within the street domain and how light rail and parked vehicles can happily co-exist.

Island Bus Stops

When the bus lanes on the A118 Stratford High Street in east London were converted into segregated cycle lanes (as part of Cycling Superhighway 2) it was decided that the best way to avoid conflict between cyclists and buses at bus stops would be to locate the cycle path between the bus stops and the main part of the footpath. In effect this innovative solution creates bus stop islands.

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The routing of cycle lanes between the bus stop and the main part of the footpath makes it possible for buses to reach the bus stop without crossing the cycle lane.
Also known as floating bus stops, this design of bus stop has been installed following complaints by cyclists about the gaps in cycle lanes at bus stops.

Access between the main part of the footpath and the island bus stops is facilitated by a short section of raised cycle path. For people with less than 20-20 vision these feature tactile footpaths and they also offer full accessibility for people who use personal wheeled transports such as pushchairs / buggies / strollers and wheelchairs. Whilst aimed at all bus passengers the reality is that most tend to cross the cycle path at locations which are convenient to them.

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An island bus stop level access cycle path crossing point. Cycling Superhighway 2, as seen away from bus stops. This is a reallocation of a traffic lane away from buses to cyclists.

click me for video A short video showing one of these island bus stops has been placed on the ‘YouTube’ film / video website and can be watched (in a new window) by clicking either the projector icon or this link - http://www.youtube.com/watch? ..

In an attempt to stop unauthorised use, often as ‘avatars’ on web-based discussion sites, the above bus stop island images have been watermarked. However, as this website has benefited tremendously from other people’s images so in the spirit of fairness full-size unedited copies of the master images have been placed on the free online ‘Wikipedia’ encyclopædia (and made public domain) so that people can download them from there - rather than pinch (which includes hot-linking) from this website and using my paid-for bandwidth. They were placed these directories...

Finding Railway Stations

Because railways (usually) operate away from the street environment their stops & stations can sometimes be more discreetly located, making finding them more of an art.

In the past many railway companies have sought to make their stations easier to locate by making them (large), opulent looking buildings as per the fashions of the day, often built to a distinctive "corporate" architectural style which would be applied to multiple stations. The ideas being to make them stand out / more easily recognised for what they are and be noticed. Other options to make them easier to find would (and sometimes still do) include the fixing of signposts pointing to the station on lamp-posts, and, especially in the modern era, on road direction signs. The latter is frequently done for park+ride services, whether operated by bus or rail.

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City Centre station on the former Sydney (Australia) monorail (left) and Heron Quays station on the (duorail) London's Docklands Light Railway (right) are both located within buildings. Of course this is easier when (as at both locations seen here) the buildings were new too and therefore designed from the outset to allow for the transports.

In both these locations the physical presence of the tracks helps advertise the presence of the transport.

Sometimes in cities where the railway travels below ground the stations will not have any significant surface buildings - instead the entrances (usually but not always to the ticket selling area) will be via the public subways (ie: subterranean walkway / passageway systems - NOT the American meaning of "subway") which can also be used by pedestrians solely to cross the roads. Similar can apply to elevated railway systems, although of course by being elevated it is usually possible to see that the transport "is there".

To help advertise that these public subways are also the access routes to the public transport many cities locate distinctive symbols at the entrances. Typically these symbols will be used on surface buildings too.

See text and caption for picture information. Designed by the architect Henry Green, London's Covent Garden station is typical of the over 40 stations built in the first decade of the 20th century by the Underground Electric Railways Group (UERG) for what nowadays are known as the Northern, Piccadilly and Bakerloo Lines.

The UERG corporate style included distinctive ruby red glazed bricks and - to maximise financial income from the valuable land space - a structure which permits several floors of offices to be built over it.

Note the distinctive London Transport symbol located on the side of the building so that it can be seen by people elsewhere along the road and can act as a 'homing beacon' making it even easier to find the station.
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An entrance to an underground station in the German city of Stuttgart (Degerloch). To the left of the steps can be seen a large pole with a clock, a distinctive U (for 'Underground'), a pictogram for a foot passageway to cross a road, a local streetmap plus directions to other local (surface) transports. On the right is a train describer showing the next services, at what is a busy station that is served by many different routes.

The distinctive U symbol is used throughout Germany, making it easier to find the transport for locals and visitors alike.
An entrance to an underground (tram) station in the French city of Strasbourg. The distinctive design both offers weather protection for passengers and maximum visibility to help with "finding it!"
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Gants Hill Station on the London Underground's Central Line is located under a very busy roundabout where 3 dual carriageways, 2 major roads and a local road meet. The station does not have any street level buildings (apart from the roof of the ticket hall on the roundabout's central island) and instead the station entrance is included as part of the public subway which pedestrians can also use to safely cross the (often) very busy roads.

Entrances to the subway are located on most street corners around the area and the only street level "advertisements" for the presence of the railway are these distinctive signs (which at night are brightly illuminated like beacons) that are located next to the subway entrances. Both these images show the same sign, albeit from opposite sides. In the clickable larger version of the daylight image it will also be possible to see the CCTV camera spying on everyone in the area plus the sign advising that cycling is forbidden on the subway access ramps.
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In some cities subterranean passageway station entrances are further highlighted with distinctive and ornamental structures around the stairway. Many people would instantly recognise this example as being an historic Hector Guimard designed station entrance on the Paris, France métro. In fact however it is a copy that in 1967 was a gift from Paris to the French Canadian city of Montréal, where it can be found at Square-Victoria metro station.
Image & license: LogosV / Wikipedia encyclopædia. CC BY-SA 3.0
A compilation of distinctive symbols as used in various towns and cities globally to denote urban rail transport systems. All of these were sourced from the "Wikipedia" encyclopædia.
Top row: Lausanne, Switzerland; Istanbul, Turkey; Kiev, Ukraine; Lille, France; Minsk, Belarus.
Middle row: Barcelona, Spain; Brussels, Belgium; São Paulo, Brazil; Osaka, Japan.
Bottom row: Mexico City, Mexico; Montréal, Canada; Milan, Italy; Stockholm, Sweden ('tunnelbana' - 'tunnel railway').

Railway (NOT Train) Station Terminology

For many years the word station rarely needed a transport type to be stated as well. It was simply understood that the word station referred to the location on the railways where trains stopped to allow passengers to board and alight. Stations were often grand buildings with elevated platforms which (in the UK) were almost the same height of the passenger carriage floors, had shelters over the platform to keep passengers dry in inclement weather, facilities for selling tickets, waiting rooms, goods facilities, etc. Busier stations also had tea rooms and even restaurants. Conversely very quiet stations which only offered simple platforms and waiting rooms were often known as halts. Trams, which usually located some or all of their route in urban streets called at stops which usually offered minimal facilities, if any. Especially when in the public highway. When running on segregated tracks they too sometimes used the term halt.

Bus stopping points were also known as bus stops, except perhaps at large city centre buildings served by many bus services which were known as bus stations.

Alas nowadays people insist on referring to all railway stations as train stations, which is a term that has been lifted from North America where many other transport (transit) terminologies are also different (see below. What is even worse is that people do not even know that they are speaking a foreign dialect.

This irksome malady mostly afflicts younger people.

Platform Or Track? More North American 'English' Terminology

As the saying goes...

Two nations divided by a common language

In North America things are often done and named differently than here in the UK. For instance, they do not number platforms, instead they number the tracks that the trains will use whilst at the station. Therefore their passenger information refers to track numbers whilst here in the UK our passenger information actually refers to the platform face (or edge) next to which the train will stop.

Also, the American concept of a platform is different to that which is found in the UK, as often in America the station platforms are at or not raised very much above the height of the track. With these very low level platforms passengers entering or leaving the trains need to negotiate the steps which form an integral part of the train's underframe. Small children, the elderly and the 'less able' must find doing this to be very difficult!

Perhaps because of the low height platforms, sometimes departing passengers are only allowed to enter the platform after the arriving train has come to a complete stop. This can be very inconvenient if the passenger wishes to board the train at a location that is remote from the platform entrance (perhaps because that is where their reserved seat is to be found) and they would rather walk along the length of the entire platform so as to be ready to board when the train has arrived.

NB: Not all of these comments apply to American urban subways and new-build light rail services which are designed to be fully accessible.

Keeping Railway Stations 'Lout'-free

Very occasionally there are problems with people (usually teen-agers / twentysomethings) who like to gather - on station platforms, concourses, ticket halls etc., - in large groups, talking loudly, and sometimes behaving in a "loutish" way which can seem intimidating to many passengers. It is to be regretted that what effectively is a small minority have so little sense of social responsibility that they cause distress to the majority in this way.

Paper with musical notes for 'writing' Experience on the Tyne & Wear Metro and London Underground has found that a very effective solution which drives teenagers (and twentysomethings) away is to play classical music over the station's loudspeaker system. It seems that these youngsters (who frequently are just meeting with their friends and not actually using the transports) do not like this type of music; as a contrast many mature adults very much do like this type of music.

When The Station Is A Ferry Boat!

On the railways it is usual that passengers only board / alight trains at 'stations', which are pre-designated stopping points. Stations can of course be almost anywhere, but perhaps the single most common feature is that they are always on dry land. However every rule needs an exception - and in this instance the station is on a ferry boat!

The story is that some Hamburg (Germany) - Copenhagen (Denmark) trains include through carriages that use the car / lorry / passenger ferry between the ports of Puttgarden and Rødby. And if passengers want to join or leave the train at Rødby then they must do so via the boat.

During the crossing the rail passengers have the choice of either staying on the train or walking around the ferry, perhaps visiting one of the restaurants or if the weather is pleasant sitting on an outside deck.

A Danish railway carriage and a juggernaut sharing one of a ferry's heavy-vehicle decks.
A Danish railway carriage and a
juggernaut sharing a heavy-vehicle
deck on a ferry boat.
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Transport Punctuality And Stop Dwell Times

An all too common occurence is a passenger running to catch a transport which is already at the stop / station. Often the driver will wait for them to arrive, and be thanked for this.

Whilst this is a nice thing to do it is not always good for the overall service. If the average wait is 10 seconds then by the sixth stop / station the transport will be running a minute late.

Sometimes it is possible to drive a little faster to make up for the lost seconds, but this is not always so and especially where the transport has a recording device which monitors how the driver is performing then if a speed limit is breached, even slightly, whilst the chances of danger to the passengers will usually be zero the driver might end up being disciplined.

Passengers expect transports to be punctual - late running is very rarely welcomed whilst early running is only appreciated at the end of line / terminal station, as before that a passenger who arrives at the stop slightly before the transport's scheduled time of arrival will be most annoyed if it has already come and gone!

In an effort to improve punctuality on its suburban trains in January 2014 Auckland, New Zealand instituted a new policy of blowing whistles and not waiting for last-minute runners. Experience showed that this helped to raise punctuality (which was defined as arriving within 5 minutes of scheduled time) from 80% to 91.7%. This was the first time that their trains had exceeded 90% and although the new policy will not please the passengers who are not waited for, the new way of doing things is seen as being for the greater good.

Ticket Sales

Most transport systems expect passengers to buy their tickets (ie: pay for their journey) in advance of travelling and to encourage this roving ticket inspectors will require every passenger they encounter to provide proof that they have complied with this requirement. Passengers who have not paid in advance are usually required to pay a "standard" or "penalty" fare that is much higher than they would have been charged had they paid at the correct time. Repeat offenders are sometimes prosecuted in a court of law which can impose large fines and perhaps in the most serious of circumstances imprison the offenders.

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Look, no queue! AND there is more than one window open!
This amazing scene comes from Birmingham International Railway station, in the mid 1990's.
Unfortunately this 2016 view paints a very different picture. What is not seen is the nearby example of a ticketing solution that replicates the self-service tills (check-outs) at supermarkets. This being passengers having to use self-service ticket machines, with members of staff nearby to offer assistance, if required.

Generally with buses it is possible to pay the driver when boarding - although some urban systems use an off vehicle ticketing system where passengers must be in possession of a valid ticket before boarding, whilst for railways the arrangements can include buying tickets from a staffed ticket window or a station ticket machine. An ever increasing number of locations also allow payment of fares by means of an electronic token which was bought over the Internet and stored on a smartphone or from contactless ticketing solutions where passengers use radio frequency card readers at the start and sometimes also the end of their journeys so that the cost of the travel can be deducted from either a bank / credit card account, the electronic purse of a smartcard or some other means.

For longer distance travel and season (period) tickets the purchase options can also include telesales or via the internet.

Frequently European conurbations have integrated ticketing schemes which charge the same fare no matter the transport operator or type of transport the passenger uses, with one ticket covering the entire journey, no matter how many changes are required.

This means that tickets bought from newsagents / confectionary shops or machines located at street-based tram & bus stops are also valid on local urban mainline railway (ie: heavy rail) services as well. It also usually possible to purchase tickets in advance of travel, with tickets for multiple journeys being sold at discounted rates, and then each ticket being validated at the start of the journey.

Often conurbations which have adopted this ticketing system also price tickets bought from bus drivers slightly higher than those bought from other sources. This is done to encourage passengers to avoid buying from bus drivers as this slows the services.

See caption for picture information.
Milan is typical of many European conurbations where
newsagents / confectionary stores (kiosks) sell local
travel tickets - even for single trips.
This image comes from an
underground railway / urban metro [subway] station.

There are no "technical" reasons why a similar ticketing system could not apply to British conurbations - perhaps the primary reason why it tends to only exist in the bigger cities is that the government's 'Office of Fair Trading' (sic) uses its anti-cartel regulations to prohibit independently owned transport (especially bus) companies from introducing proper integrated ticketing systems. The fact that such may be in the passengers' best interest does not seem to concern them - political dogma and their own sense of self-importance reign supreme.

Ticketing systems are fully explored on the Fares & Ticketing Systems page.

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Shopping and Refreshment Facilities

Refreshment facilities provide a welcoming way for hungry and thirsty passengers to pass their time whilst waiting for their train. At some stations these will comprise of a 'tea room' or kiosk located on the platform (or on several platforms), perhaps next to the general waiting room, whilst at other stations they will be located in or near the booking hall / ticket sales area / on the main concourse (lobby area) so that they can be used by people who are not travelling too. In North America some local transport systems have by-laws prohibiting the consumption of food or drink on their trains or station platforms and intending passengers must be careful to make sure that before even entering the platform / waiting area they have fully consumed any food or drink (even ice cream!) bought at shops nearby.

Bookstalls are also frequently found at stations, these also selling magazines, newspapers, confectionary and soft drinks.

Large, busy stations where there is a continuous flow of passengers often feature a wider range of shops as might be found in a neighbourhood shopping centre. In rural areas some stations feature 24/7 type convenience stores which attract non-travellers too, thereby helping to keep the station 'alive'. In some instances the sales staff will also sell train tickets. The locating of shops at stations in this way is usually seen as being a considerably more attractive alternative to 'unstaffed' stations.

Although relatively rare on urban transit type systems many mainline railway stations also feature public conveniences (toilets \ washrooms), which might be free at point of use or might charge a small fee to cover the cost of their upkeep. Providing these facilities is important and despite the cost of upkeep these should be seen as part of the public service ethos under which public transport operates. The need for these is in addition to similar facilities which are often to be found on longer-distance trains.

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Automated vending machines can provide a basic level of refreshments at locations where staffed facilities are not provided. Public telephones are also often to be found at stations although the advent of the mobile (cell) phone has seen significant reductions in the numbers of people using public telephones. Sometimes these telephones will only accept pre-paid cards and credit cards. With respect to the soft drinks I only ever drink the versions sweetened with either real sugar or stevia (which is a natural herb), as I understand that chemical-based artificial sweeteners often block absorption of nutrients in ways which can result in obesity and in other ways as well are actually dangerous to human health.
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A shop selling refreshments to passengers waiting on the platform at Sloane Square London Underground station. Almost anywhere where there is sufficient space and footfall there could be an outlet selling coffees, etc., - at some locations this could be in addition to other food outlets.
See caption for picture information. See caption for picture information.
Part of the food court at London's Euston station, which is one of the busiest mainline termini stations from where trains heading to Glasgow / Manchester / Liverpool etc,. via the "West Coast Main Line" depart. Tax-free shopping on the platform at Freidrichstraße station in Berlin, Germany. This image shows an unusual form of station shopping as it comes from when the city was divided. Although in East Berlin this station was also served by West Berlin S-Bahn & U-Bahn trains, and 'western' passengers changing trains were able to indulge in tax-free shopping!
See caption for picture information. Another way for railway passengers to spend their money - and for the railway industry to help encourage / nurture a love of trains in the next generation too (!) - in Germany most major stations have one of these coin-slot operated model railways, with children (of all ages!!!) being able to 'drive' a train themselves.

There are usually a choice of four trains which can be driven, each from (any) one of the four driving position around the glass showcase.


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Litter is a problem for transport operators - the travelling public often discard used food wrappings, newspapers, etc and whilst at one time British railway stations were equipped with rubbish bins these have had to be removed (or sealed closed) to prevent explosive devices from being left in them. So now clear plastic bags are used, as here (above left).
The image (above right) is a bus stop poster - unfortunately even though some bus stops still have litter bins passengers still leave empty food packaging, etc., on the floor.
See caption for picture information. The German Railways (Deutsche Bahn - DB) uses multi-waste litter (trash) bins at all of its stations as this more easily facilitates recycling of certain types of waste.

The example shown here accepts (from left to right) waste, packaging, glass and paper. Note that there is no facility for plastic bottles (mineral water, etc) as these attract a 25 cent deposit on purchase, which is refunded when returned to the place of purchase for them to recycle.

Although the example shown here has options for four types of waste there are variations; many only offer three options.

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Station Platform Safety

As a general theme railway station platforms are very safe places to be, but over the years a few hazards have been identified.

Two of these relate to people standing too near the edge of the platform. Even when a platform is not very crowded people sometimes like to stand near the edge and look around. Sometimes they look at other platforms nearby, or down at the track, or along the track - perhaps in the hope of seeing their train approaching - and when doing this very occasionally they accidentally fall off and on to the track. This is a different issue from when people want to commit suicide and jump in front of an approaching train. Another safety hazard - and one where the danger is often is only fully understood when it is too late to do anything about - is that because trains travelling at high speed often create localised air turbulence so when they pass through the rushing air can pull them in towards the train and in the most severe instances result in being fatally sucked under it. From personal experience when a teenager it is possible to confirm that one does not even need to be very close to the edge for the air turbulence from a train travelling at about 80mph (130km/h) to become an issue. Many modern trains travel much faster than this.

One solution which many railways have adopted is to paint a line (usually yellow in colour) a set distance from the platform edge which passengers are asked to stay behind - except of course when a train is calling at the station.

The yellow lines behind which passengers should stand can vary in distance from the platform edge depending on the transport providor and the services it operates at that platform. As a general theme the faster the trains pass through without stopping so the further away the yellow line needs to be from the platform edge.

In some places passengers can even be fined for being in front of the yellow line when there is not a train actually at the station.

See caption for picture information. See caption for picture information.
As this view demonstrates, the distance between the yellow line and platform edge can vary depending on the type of service and trains which pass through the platform.

The tracks on the left are used by services that very rarely travel through without stopping whilst the tracks on on the right are often used by trains which travel through (albeit at modest speed) without stopping.
MRT safety sign at Yishun station, Singapore.

Image & license: mailer_diablo / Wikipedia encyclopædia. CC BY-SA 3.0

Platform Edge Doors

In some towns and cities the transport operators have advanced on the use of yellow lines (as seen above) and fitted physical barriers with opening doorways along the platform edge. The purpose of this is to increase safety by physically preventing people from falling (or being pushed / jumping) in front of trains entering the station and reduce trespassing incidents by making it much more difficult to reach the tracks.

Platform edge doors (also sometimes also known as platform screen doors) typically reach from the ground all the way to the ceiling (or platform canopy at outdoor stations). Similar in theme are platform edge gates, which are also known as automatic platform gates or half-height platform screen doors. The significant difference between doors and gates is that the gates are normally only about chest-high, and therefore as they require less metallic framework, glass, etc are usually cheaper to install. However, by not reaching up to the ceiling / platform canopy platform gates are potentially less effective in preventing people from jumping onto the tracks.

Whether gates or doors, their installation is easiest and least costly when done as part of a new transport system - although for reasons of safety some cities are retrofitting them on pre-existing systems too, a process which can be disruptive - both during the works and if there are any 'teething' issues once they are brought into service.

Whether half or full height one important issue is that the trains stop accurately that both the train's and platform's doors are correctly aligned to each other. One enterprising door manufacturer has designed a system whereby the platform doors will adjust how they open to match the exact stopping point of the train. Another important issue is that platform doors will only be suitable for platforms which are used by trains with the same door configurations - as otherwise the train and platform doors will not always align in a way which allows passengers to pass between the train and the platform.

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Platform edge doors on the fully unmanned / driverless métro in Lille, France, which opened in 1983. Not all driverless systems use doors like this - for instance Lyon (France) and Vancouver (Canada) both feature driverless métros but neither system uses platform doors. In 1987 Singapore's Mass Rapid Transit system became the first heavy rail system to incorporate platform screen doors in its stations. Initially they were only located at underground stations where their presence is not just safety-related: the subterranean stations are air-conditioned and the doors help prevent the cool air escaping into the tunnels.

In January 2008 the Singaporean Minister for Transport announced that to improve safety by 2012 all the elevated stations would be retrofitted with half-height automatic platform gates. Previously this action had been ruled out for reasons of prohibitively high costs, but due to the global popularity of such gates their costs had fallen sufficiently to make this financially feasible.

Another city which is retrofitting stations with platform doors is Paris, France. So far this is being done place on métro line 1, as part of a process which also includes converting it to fully automatically operated trains, as this will allow service frequencies on this very busy line to be increased to a train every 85 seconds.

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Experimental automatic gates at Gare St-Lazare (line 13) on the Parisian métro system.
Image & license: Pline / Wikipedia encyclopædia. CC BY-SA 3.0
Platform gates being installed at Bérault (line 1) on the Parisian métro system.
Image & license: Greenski / Wikipedia encyclopædia.CC BY-SA 3.0
See caption for picture information. See caption for picture information.
Hong Kong has been retrofitting the stations on the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) with either platform doors or gates. Central station, seen here, now has platform doors.
Image & license: Someone who for some obscure reason wants crediting as:
ME (I took this photo) / Wikipedia encyclopædia. CC BY-SA 3.0
Hong Kong's Sunny Bay was the first surface station to be fitted with reduced height automatic platform gates. Easier to see in the larger version of this image are the orange lights of the "person detection system" which monitor the doorways for obstructions when the gates are closing (at top of metallic gate frame). The rather unusual Mickey Mouse side window shapes on the train is because they are dedicated to a route serving the Hong Kong Disneyland.
Image & license: Jerry Crimson Mann / Wikipedia encyclopædia. CC BY-SA 3.0

Who says that platform doors and gates must only be dull metallic grey / gray (or silver) in colour?

Also seen in these two images below are some different ideas for the use of platform edge 'keep behind' yellow lines. By way of contrast it may be noted that these yellow lines are missing from most of the other images seen here. Perhaps some transport operators take the view that platform doors / gates render platform edge lines as being superfluous?

See caption for picture information. See caption for picture information.
Purple coloured edge doors at
Higashiyama Station, Tozai Line, Kyoto City Subway.
Image & license: Tawashi2006 / Wikipedia encyclopædia. CC BY-SA 3.0
Yellow half-height platform edge gates at
Ookayama station, Tokyu Meguro Line.
Image & license: Tennen-Gas / Wikipedia encyclopædia. CC BY-SA 3.0

A different type of platform gate system can be found on some platforms which are on the routes of the Japanese very high speed Shinkansen trains. Trains travelling at high speed often create localised air turbulence, and when passing through stations this can create a safety hazard for any passengers standing too near the platform edge. Quite literally they can be pulled in towards the train and in the most severe instances fatally sucked under it.

Therefore where possible railway systems will try to keep tracks used by high speed trains a safe distance from station platforms, but where this is not possible physical barriers such as these which are set back from the platform edge keep passengers a safe distance away from passing trains. Sliding openings in the barriers allow passengers to reach the platform edge at stations where trains sometimes also call at the platform. In the example seen here it could be asked whether there are enough openings in the barrier to prevent passengers from being delayed whilst passing the barrier, but that is another issue.

See caption for picture information.
Image & license: jason.kaechler / Flickr CC BY 2.0
See caption for picture information.
Image & license: jason.kaechler / Flickr CC BY 2.0
This type of platform barrier would be suitable for use at locations where trains feature different door configurations, but not on platforms served by high frequency 'rapid transit' type services.
Both images show a Shinkansen N700 series trainset 'Nozomi' at Shin-Kobe station.
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In London platform doors were first introduced with the 1999 extension of the Jubilee line, where they initially proved to be somewhat troublesome as seen here (above left) from inside a train when only the trains' doors opened. (Photographed on 35mm film but without a flashgun - as these are prohibited on the London Underground - so apologies but parts of the image are very dark). The view (above right) shows the doors in use at Southwark station shortly after opening and with building works almost completed.
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British people are reknown for queuing ('waiting in line' in the American dialect) and as these images show, knowing where along the platform the doors will open these homeward bound commuters form a orderly queues to facilitate easier and rapid boarding of the trains when they arrive. These images were taken during the evening rush hour at London's Canary Wharf station.
See caption for picture information.

Don't become trapped between the doors!

The big 'fear' with platform doors is of becoming trapped between the two sets of closing doors as a train prepares to leave a station. This almost happened here - fortunately they re-opened and the somewhat alarmed man was able to scramble to safety.

However, according to Wikipedia on 15th July 2007 there was a fatality in Shanghai, China when a man tried to force his way onto a crowded train but instead became sandwiched between the two sets of doors as they closed and was then pulled under the train as it left the station.
See caption for picture information. For many years most of the subterranean stations on London's Underground which are served by the smaller profile "tube" trains have featured these "suicide pits" between the tracks, which provide a safe refuge under the train. Platform doors provide a better way to improve station safety.

As with all other photographs taken at stations on this website this image was taken on a hand held camera without the use of a flashgun, which for safety reasons is strictly prohibited. (This is to protect train driver's eyes which will be accustomed to the darkness of the tunnels - flashguns can cause short term blindness).
See caption for picture information. A different type of platform door can be found at the London Underground platform entrances at Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5. Here closely spaced metal barricades partially block the platform entrance.

The purpose of this is to prevent airport luggage trolleys from being taken on to the platform as these would have the potential to cause a nasty incident should one fall onto the tracks. The potential dangers include being hit by a train and possibly short-circuiting the electric power supply rails.

Whilst the width of the gaps between the barricades is sufficient for passengers to walk through passengers with suitcases, etc., may find that they need to push their baggage through first and walk through directly behind it.
See text above for picture information.

Platform doors help protect against
Human Stupidity.

Incredible though this may seem there is a person sitting on the platform edge with their legs dangling over the tracks. Human stupidity is sadly a serious problem; too frequently people doing this lose their legs (or even their life) when trains travelling at high speed approach and they fail to get out of the way in time. Sometimes train drivers are also so traumatised that they are unable to continue driving trains.

This example comes from Amsterdam, Holland but it happens here in Britain too.
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When Waiting In The Street For Buses Or Trams Is A Criminal Offence

See caption for picture information.
On Croydon's tramlink the footpath at the West Croydon stop is so narrow that it is wholly incorporated into the tram stop's platform / waiting area. So even innocent pedestrians who just happen to be walking by could conceivably become innocent victims of this awful legislation.

Think it cannot happen in Britain? - it already has - for instance on 1st May 2001 in London's Oxford Circus when (to prevent a May-day protest) the police ruthlessly held 3,000 people (including innocent passers-by who just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time) prisoner for as long as 8 hours! No food, no drink - even visits to the toilet were denied.

Innocent until proven otherwise? R.I.P
Habeas Corpus? R.I.P.
the Bill of Rights (of 1689)? R.I.P.
Dictatorial rule by unelected, unaccountable petty officials?
The new order!

...and then there is the EU's Amsterdam Treaty which requires that the legal system known as Corpus Juris be introduced - setting up a European Public Prosecutor with over-riding criminal law jurisdiction throughout Europe, and explicitly abolishing Habeas Corpus and Trial by Jury - which date from Magna Carta, of 1215.
See caption for picture information.
Traitors Gate and the Tower of London as seen from across the River Thames. In medieval times enemies of the state were sometimes kept here - the Civil Contingency Legislation which passed through Parliament in autumn 2004 will let politicians (on the merest whim) tear up 1000 years of human rights, Magna Carta etc., - so it is possible that it will soon revert back to that use. Politicians do not waste time & money on introducing laws they do not intend to use.

In your naïvety you probably thought that our political leaders work for the betterment of the British people? The reality is that this is NOT so - indeed against the British people would be more accurate.

Broken scales of justice.

Strange as it may seem, in Britain a healthy crowd waiting at a street-based bus or tram stop is actually an illegal gathering for which all the participants could face arrest and imprisonment!

This is because under the Criminal Justice legislation introduced under Mrs Thatcher's premiership any gathering of more than six people requires a pre-arranged licence which has to be obtained from the police.

This awful legislation was introduced at a time when it was common for large groups of people to descend en masse upon warehouses (which did not have fire safety certification) for all-night - or longer - 'acid house / rave' parties where extremely loud 'music' (sic), drunkenness and the use of illegal drugs were commonplace.
Around the same time there were also problems with various anarchist and other anti-everything Luddite organisations using anti-poll tax (a type of local government funding) demonstrations as excuses for causing riots where they would revel in using weapons such as baseball bats embedded with razor blades and 6 inch nails to commit as many acts of wanton violence against the police & members of the general public as possible. They also rejoiced in much destruction to property - with a specific target of a certain globally known US based fast er, um, 'food' (sic) chain.

(Surely a far better way to show their disapproval of global trading systems would have been to follow Gandhi's example of peaceful non-violent protest)?

Although the poll tax is no more and this legislation totally failed to stop either the riots or the warehouse parties we have been left with an unfortunate legacy of draconian 'catch-all' regulations that in their own way do far more to undermine everyone's civil liberties than the rioters ever did.

Incidentally, amongst the other groups of 'victims' of this legislation are disaffected passengers who refuse to alight from a bus / train / tram etc., that is running late and has had its journey shortened and parents waiting outside a school to collect their children after classes have finished for the day.

As if that legislation is not bad enough Mr Blair's government has (now) introduced a new law designed to throw the clock back 1000 years by scrapping ALL human rights and effectively reducing us back to the slavery of serfdom.

The following information comes from a weblog at this webpage . (http://www.spy.org.uk/spyblog/archives/2004/11/civil_contingen_3.html), and is dated 8th November 2004.

November 08, 2004
Civil Contingencies Bill - Report stage in the House of Lords on Tuesday and Wednesday
The tabled for the Report Stage of the Civil Contingencies Bill will be debated by the House of Lords on Tuesday and Wednesday.

This looks is probably the last chance to limit the astonishing Emergency Powers which the Government is planning to grant itself, before the legislation gets rubber-stamped by the House of Commons, which seemingly continues to fail to protect our fundamental liberties and freedoms.

We are not convinced that the Government will actually accept the amendments which try to ring fence certain Acts of Parliament and constitutional documents e.g. Magna Carta or the Human Rights Act or, most importantly, the Civil Contingencies Act itself from being amended by Ministers, by regulation or order, without the need for full debate in Parliament, but with the full force of Primary Legislation and the Royal Prerogative.

The Government rejected a similar recommendation in the Report by the Joint Committee of both Houses on the Draft Civil Contingencies Bill and claimed that since "Ministers are deemed to always act reasonably" the highly complicated and obscure "triple lock" mechanism, which again, they refused to clarify by writing it into a single clause , would somehow protect the public from the potential abuse of the extraordinary "Henry VIII" powers which might be invoked by a future dictatorship.

Do you trust the current Government with so much power? How about a future Government which could declare Emergency Powers on the basis of the "opinion" of a Minister who has been briefed with a "dodgy intelligence dossier"?

None of the tabled amendments seek to resolve the questions of criminal sanctions against petty officials or bureaucrats who exceed their Emergency Powers, the need for Digital Signatures to authenticate Orders and Regulations rapidly in an emergency (would you seriously start the evacuation of a City, simply on the basis of an email or phone call or a fax, which can be so easily forged?), the lack of anti-hoax provisions, the need for audit trails for future mandatory Public Inquiries, etc. which we raised as concerns about the original Draft Civil Contingencies Bill, and which still remain at the Report Stage of the full Bill.
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Direct links to other pages within the theme...

Easy access for all! About Railways Transport Integration - making it all mesh together as one seamless entity. Its high time we stopped polluting our cities - we have the technology, but not the willpower
re-load this page.
Site index
A look at bus transport. Roads
Welcome to this site. NB: this link opens in a new window.
Fares and ticketing systems.
Nostalgia, Heritage & Leisure.
What needs doing to entice people out of their cars - and how to fund it!
Road pricing, road-user charging, motorway / expressway tolling, cordon charging and urban 'congestion' charging.
Bus priority systems
Feeders for mainstream transports and specialist transports meeting different needs.
About light rail - modern trams and streetcars.
The importance of freight trains.
Specific examples of how tram stops fit in the street scene and that trams and parked vehicles can coexist!
The bus gets a stylish makeover.
Railway electrification. Ideas to make roads safer.
Often overlooked alternative transports
Traffic free pedestrian zones and transit malls.
Does speed kill - or is it only inappropriate speed that kills (too fast / slow)?
Different types of passenger train as defined by the type of service they provide.
Create urban green corridors.
Quiet, clean buses that won't give you lungful of noxious exhaust fumes. Vehicles need to go somewhere at journey's end.
Let traffic congestion make you the unwilling victim of the crime of time theft!
Where different types of guided transport operate over shared infrastructure.

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