Mobility Hub: 
Mobility station of the future

Urban mobility is increasingly becoming a service. Especially in cities, flexible offers to combine different means of transport from A to B are playing an increasingly important role. Because especially in metropolitan areas, traffic jams have been increasing for years and parking space is becoming increasingly scarce. The solution is multimodal mobility, which means that a high availability of alternative means of transport increases the willingness to use sharing services or on-demand offers and makes the use of cars less attractive. A development that is also to be welcomed from an ecological point of view.

What is a mobility hub?

Definition: A Mobility Hub is a publicly accessible hub where shared means of transport are available at any time. It starts small - e.g. with a bus stop where shared bikes and e-scooters are available - and can be scaled up as needed

Large mobility hubs – also called mega hubs - are usually located at transport hubs where many people come together, e.g. at railway stations. Where the (long-distance) bus or train arrives, car-sharing vehicles, (cargo) bicycles, e-scooters, taxis, etc. are ready for the onward journey, but also lockers, charging stations for electric vehicles and much more can be found there.

Good to know: A mobility hub also opens up various economic opportunities. Since many people come and go at hubs or sharing points, it is only natural to set up new shops, cafés, restaurants and other commercial ventures there.

Why mobility hubs?

First and foremost, the hubs and networks established by Mobility Hubs should contribute to making cycling, walking and the use of alternative modes of transport as attractive as possible. 

Ideally, Mobility Hubs will achieve several transport policy goals, such as

  • less congestion
  • more efficient traffic flow
  • reduced CO2 emissions
  • improved quality of life in cities
  • and much more.

Good to know: If all accessible means of transport - such as public transport, rental bikes, e-scooters, rental cars, etc. – are available at a mobility station and can ideally be reserved or booked via a central app, city dwellers can travel flexibly from A to B – and do without their private car much more easily.

How Mobility Hubs contribute to a mobility turnaround

Current studies show: People who do without their own car thanks to alternative mobility offers (e.g. car sharing) rarely make a U-turn. On the contrary: frequent users of public and shared transport appreciate the advantages and freedoms, e.g. ...

  • the money saved on petrol and insurance
  • no bills for maintenance and repairs
  • flexible use of alternative means of transport
  • more exercise in the fresh air
  • and much more.

But what conditions must be fulfilled in order for mobility hubs to encourage more people to leave their cars behind and increasingly use alternative means of transport? 

In the following, we briefly present the most important success factors for mobility hubs.

#1 Success Factor:Switching made easy

Passengers are not necessarily keen on having to change trains during a journey. After all, every change within and between means of transport carries the risk of extending the journey time, missing the connection, losing time or causing other inconveniences.

The solution? Mobility hubs need to organise transfers as smoothly as possible. Central apps that use real-time data to facilitate the planning, reservation and payment of all types of journeys will better enable smooth changing.

#2 Success Factor: Travelling must become an experience

If mobility hubs are set up at the right points, e.g. near social meeting points or other frequented places such as shopping streets, then travelling can be more than just getting from point A to point B.

In concrete terms, this means that if a Mobility Hub allows travellers to pick up a parcel, meet friends, do their shopping or workon the way home, journeys are perceived as more pleasant and it is much easier to leave the car behind.

#3 Success Factor:Many means of transport for a small price

In order to make mobility offers as attractive as possible, as many means of transport as possible should be coordinated in terms of timetables and ideally be within walking distance. Of course, not every means of transport suits every city, but most of them can be implemented everywhere.

The following means of transport and services could be available at Mobility Hubs at all times:

  • Train, metro, tram, cable car or hyperloop stations
  • Bus, shuttle, taxi, ride-hailing or car-sharing services
  • Carpooling or meeting point for (private) ridesharing
  • Stations for micromobility: e.g. electric scooters, pedal scooters, (cargo) bikes, e-scooters
  • Ships and ferries (if rivers and lakes in the city)
  • Air taxis, drones, helicopters, etc. (more of a future scenario)

Good to know: Favourable travel costs - also favoured by municipal and state subsidies - as well as modern payment systems adapted to the spirit of the times – e.g. season tickets, folding rates, etc. - will play their part in inspiring as many people as possible to use alternative means of transport in the long term.

#4 Success Factor:Data-based information systems

Urban transport is a complex and dynamic system. The more data is available in real time and the more efficiently this data is linked or exchanged between passengers and transport modes, the more flexible and attractive shared and public transport becomes compared to the private car.

Data and information that make mobility hubs more attractive are, for example, the following:

  • Travel information: Timetables, fares, detailed locations, connections, etc
  • Real-time information: Delays, disruptions, roadworks, availability, etc.
  • Location-based information: Events, rallies local offers etc.
  • Other information: Carpooling, shuttle offers, charging stations, etc.

#5 Success Factor:Establish mobility hubs as pleasant places

Many railway stations are known as dark and run-down places. This is a development that must be avoided at all costs with mobility hubs. After all, safety and a pleasant ambience are a basic prerequisite for frequent use.

And even more: Mobility Hubs achieve their goals much better if they are perceived as pleasant places and perhaps even invite people to linger. Then it would also be easier for passengers to make good use of waiting times. 

Mobility hubs could be expanded to include the following services, for example:

  • Toilets & washrooms
  • Safe and comfortable waiting areas
  • Vending machines with snacks, drinks, travel items
  • Kiosks with newspapers and magazines
  • Cafés or restaurants
  • Shopping facilities
  • Secure parking for bicycles
  • Changing rooms for cyclists
  • Prayer or sleeping rooms
  • Public green space
  • Charging stations for smartphones
  • Co-working spaces
  • And much more.

Conclusion: Mobility Hub

Mobility hubs are therefore more than just hubs for switching flexibly between mobility offers. Rather, mobility hubs are the necessary prerequisite for the emergence of a new urban mobility in which greater efficiency and more environmental protection in urban traffic are not contradictions. And since mobility hubs have the potential to reduce individual traffic in cities to a maximum, they have a key role to play in the mobility of the future.

Last but not least: Intelligently planned mobility hubs are places where a range of sustainable means of transport are accessible in the immediate vicinity for the inhabitants of a city. They thus bring great benefits to society, reconciling flexible travel and low (or one day even zero) emissions.

FAQs – Frequently asked questions briefly explained

Mobility hubs serve as transfer stations to switch between different modes of transport – e.g. car sharing, public transport, rental bikes, e-scooters, etc. – as easily as possible. - as easily as possible. Mobility hubs are therefore considered key to the implementation of multimodal mobility.

Multimodal transport systems offer the same flexibility as a car. For example, a city dweller is multimodal when she steps outside her front door, rides her bike to the underground, continues by underground to her place of work and rides the last few metres to the office on an e-scooter.

Good to know: The use of several means of transport for one journey is also called intermodal mobility.

The majority of future transformation processes in transport will take place in cities and metropolises. The entirety of these technologies, concepts and processes - which are driving change - is summarised under the keyword urban mobility.

The hubs established by mobility hubs help to make cycling, walking and the use of sustainable transport increasingly attractive. In the best case, mobility hubs will eventually ensure car-free city centres (without cars).

The mobility of the future lies in digitalisation: Big Data, 5G, artificial intelligence and more connectivity increase safety, improve efficiency and reduce environmental pollution. The resulting mobility concepts set profound changes in motion.