Living in a city can be an exciting experience. With an endless variety of restaurants, entertainment and business opportunities, it’s no wonder that people are drawn to these frenzied centers of civilization. Where big-city dreams await, people are always going to migrate in masses with the hope of being a part of something bigger.
That being said, those masses are growing daily. The world population is on the rise and the numbers are drifting upwards quickly. More people can mean more excitement, but it can also mean tighter living spaces and definitely crowded commutes. Whether you live in an urban space full time or commute in from the surrounding suburbs, the architecture of transit is a force to be reckoned with on a daily basis.
Those who create urban transit systems have felt the growing pressure and opportunity to design differently as cities grow and populations explode around them. There is an urgent need for transit systems that not only function super efficiently, but cater to the human aspect of daily travel as well.
Let’s look at a few of the ways urbanization is affecting the design of our transit ways:
No Longer Just A Commute
It’s not a secret that those who commute in urban spaces feel the wear of it daily. While it’s a necessity, it can also be stressful and extremely time consuming. Plenty of commuters easily spend hours of their day in transit, making the trek to and from wherever they are heading becomes a central theme of their daily lives.
Transit architects are paving the way towards making commuting something more than an obligation. They are working hard to find ways to make commuting a lifestyle. The goal is to take the stigma out of commuting and make it a life experience in and of itself where time doesn’t seem to be lost, but maybe even gained.
The strategy behind this is clear; transit architects must design systems that allow for people to experience life in motion. It’s not enough to be carried from point A to point B—passengers should be inspired and productive along the way. Great examples of this are the metro stations in Paris, France. Each acts as its own themed gateway to travel where passengers can be inspired by art, or even do a crossword on the ceiling while they wait!
Similarly, other transit systems around the world are invoking the idea of quick commuting that simply seems easy. It’s now possible to shop, eat and read all while making your way somewhere else on time. Transit architects are dedicated to the idea of inspirational commuting as the population grows, and the evidence is in the increase of inter-commuting activities that are popping up everywhere.
One of the most frustrating parts of commuting, or transit in general for urban areas, is the wait time involved. Whether you’re waiting for a bus, a train, a taxi or a tram—waiting causes stress that can quickly spread throughout a crowd. Pick the wrong morning to forget your metro card and you could easily find yourself at the end of a long ticket line without any hope of making it to work on time. Similarly, it’s not hard to imagine the frustration that comes with stepping on a bus just to realize you left your cash or change at home.
In order to avoid these logistical hassles and save a growing population time and money, transit architecture is moving towards a realm of increased technology. The age of ticketless transport has begun and the benefits are quickly making themselves known. Prepaid collection smartcards are a feature of the future when it comes to public transportation and a more fluid commute.
These reader friendly cards eliminate the need for cash altogether and cut out those long, frustrating lines as well. Easy to recharge from the comfort of your own home, the majority of these cards don’t even need to be presented to be read. Scanners can pick up on them from inside a purse or wallet which means you don’t even have to worry about dropping or losing it along the way.
Additionally, this efficient scanning system can let transit controllers in on data more readily to help eliminate congestion during crowded times of the day. Patterns can be more easily established and dealt with, diminishing the opportunities for stressful situations.
Transit Systems That Mimic Life
While the growing population flocks to large cities and becomes increasingly dependent on public transportation, there is a deep seeded need within human beings to be somehow attached to nature as well. This is not lost on transit architects and in fact, is increasingly incorporated into their designs. Just as important as efficiency and ease of travel, is the need for people to be connected to the natural world while they make their way through an urban space.
This shows up in many different forms depending on the city, but those in Moscow have given their transport a little natural touch by painting individual metro cars with natural scenes. Bringing something aesthetically pleasing from above ground to below ground transport is an excellent strategy when it comes to giving transportation architecture a more natural feel.
Sometimes it’s not even necessary to create a natural scene to boost transport means, but simply allow the system itself to reflect the natural world. Much like the theory surrounding skyscrapers, urban trains can be designed in a manner so sleek that while they wind through cities, their exteriors reflect the sky and world around them. This creates a more integrated look for the system as a whole.
Beyond creating a natural feel, transit architects are understanding the clear need for green solutions to transportation systems in urban spaces. Longevity of systems is going to be directly linked to the health of a city as a whole, and therefore, there is definitely green work to be done. The city of Chicago has implemented a green transportation strategy that aims to connect with all of their primary commuting routes. As cities grow and populations expand, the need for green transportation to keep citizens healthy will be a top priority for transit architects.
The Possibility Of Commutes Without Public Transit
While it may seem counterintuitive at first, all of the hard work transit architects are putting into creating efficient, inspirational and natural urban systems may eventually eliminate the need for it altogether. Is it possible that people will eventually walk or bike to work on a daily basis instead of hopping a train or waiting for a bus ?
But before that happens, certain transport systems are already heading up efforts to double-up on transportation methods. In Germany, there are now trams that have front loaders for bicycles that belong to commuters. This type of transport implementation means commuters not only get the efficiency factor in their travel, but can also utilize their preferred methods of transport once they get there.
A similar system has been put in place in large cities around Europe including Paris. Bike rental systems such as Velib, are being more commonly used in congested cities to encourage citizens to hop on a bike that can then be returned close to their final destination. This increases a city’s green effort while keeping public transport numbers manageable as well.
All of these new systems have a common goal of creating a more fluid transport architecture in urban spaces, while simultaneously empowering people to enjoy their commutes— and not just put up with them. While it may eventually lead to less use of public transportation, it definitely won’t lead to the elimination of travel that is engrained in the human spirit.
A growing population shifting towards over-crowded urban centers is a real fact that has to be dealt with by urban transport architects, but it’s not an impossible one to manage. Urbanization opens the door to opportunity when it comes to design, and transit architects have the ability to make the lives of commuters better by taking human need into consideration when they set up systems.
Managing this type of growth is going to continue to be an ongoing process with exciting new steps along the way. Whether transit architects go green, create ticketless trains or give people the power to take themselves wherever they want to go, they are all together in the business of building a better urban existence.