The Dynamic Bus Station, a User Friendly Facility?Principles and Practices at Railway Stations in the Netherlands
E de Boer, Delft University of Technology, NL
The dynamic bus station in its ideal form is both a compact and a user friendly facility.
Traditionally bus lines have their own stop at the station, which implies that many of the stops are empty even during rush hour. Using the available stops flexible, in the sense that these are assigned to any incoming bus, opens the opportunity to reduce the total platform length. This is attractive when space is scarce, as is the case at central railway stations, where the largest bus stations are found.
Dynamic travel information is a quality being introduced, because travellers are more likely to be attracted to bus transport when they can get information on the actual departure time and location of the bus that serves their travel destination.
In dynamic bus stations this up-to-date information is necessary, because a combination of delays and constantly changing bus stops, creates maximum uncertainty for the passenger.
The dynamic bus station was introduced in The Netherlands around 1990. Early examples were that of Philips-town Eindhoven and the Frisian regional capital of Leeuwarden. The first one is still functioning, the second one was disabled rather soon. It is now completely static.
TU Delft undertook a research project to assess the user-friendliness of all Dutch dynamic bus stations, located at railway stations, both for disabled and non-disabled users. The bus stations were visited with a checklist, observations were made and inquiries were made into backgrounds of the local layout and practice.
We looked at
- the location as related to the main entrance of the station
- the pedestrian route to the waiting area
- the shelter provided in the waiting area
- the information provided in the waiting area
- the orientation of the waiting area towards the platforms
- visibility of departure information at platforms from the waiting area
- the pedestrian route to the platforms
- the shelter on the platforms
- the degree of dynamism of platform use and information
The variety in qualities was surprising. To mention some:
- In some cases a bad location, at the wrong side of the railway station building,
- Often insufficient shelter at the waiting area,
- Usually problematic pedestrian routes to the platforms,
- In several places no protection on the platforms.
Most surprising and disappointing was that the dynamic character of the bus stations was often quite modest:
- in most cases, hardly dynamic assignment of buses to platforms,
- quite often only indication of scheduled departure times and not of delays
- in a few cases break down of displays.
The causes of partial failure of the concept will be discussed and minimum standards discussed.
Association for European Transport