Osmose: Building the bus station of the future
Since May 2012, RATP has been trialling the bus station of the future as part of the EBSF European project, coordinated by UITP, and continuing its Osmose research process.
RATP won a prize at the UITP World Congress
As part of the ambitious ‘Osmose’ research programme into the transport facilities of the future, RATP installed an experimental bus station in May 2012 at Boulevard Diderot in Paris, as part of the European EBSF (European Bus System of the Future) project. This is the concrete reflection of RATP’s vision of the place that a sizeable bus station can take in the urban space, as a multifunctional facility providing a better quality of service to passengers, passers-by and the local community.
Its clear purpose is to provide food for thought to those involved in provision of surface transport, particularly local authorities responsible for public spaces and suppliers of urban furniture.
Description of the bus station
During several months, RATP is trialling this “augmented” station, which hosts not only transport but also urban services.
This temporary station has been installed as a replacement for the current “Gare de Lyon - Diderot” bus stop at 17 Boulevard Diderot in Paris’ 12th arrondissement. This heavily-used stop is located in a highly frequented area. It is served by three bus routes during the day (57, 61 and the much-used 91, which serves the south of the city up to the Gare Montparnasse TGV station) and by five night bus routes including the N01 circular route, with transfers to four Noctilien lines serving the suburbs. Most importantly, this stop serves as a transfer point for the Gare de Lyon (metro lines 1 and 14, RER lines A and D, and SNCF Transilien, mainline and TGV services).
The station has a total floor area of 85m², of which some 35m² is under cover. The transport space is large enough to allow the structuring of the reception and waiting areas for passengers, to identify the different services and to ensure free circulation of users. It is accessible to users in wheelchairs and to other people with disabilities (visual or hearing impairment for instance).
With a floor, 11 seats under cover and a range of fittings to improve user comfort, the station’s capacity and ease of use have been optimised.
Easy access to information:
• 2 real-time travel
information screens (details of next services and of any problems in the
surrounding area, as defined by the area map): one on the bus side, the other
on the pavement side
• 2 interactive information touchscreens, each located under one of the real-time information screens. These screens are accessible to wheelchair users, and help passengers get their bearings, find transport links or local attractions and get news about events in the 12th arrondissement
• rescaled signage to help improve visual accessibility
• traditional information boards displaying maps and timetables
• 2 ‘totem pole’ signs, one at each end. Back-lit at night, from the outside these allow the station to be identified within the city and from the inside show walking directions from the station to nearby transport links. An icon in relief allows the visually impaired to play audio information on the station’s bus services and routes
• a two-sided advertising panel, back-lit at night, which during the trial period has been used to provide information about the project
Innovative services to make life easier for passengers
• a latest-generation ticket machine,
providing an interface specially adapted for the visually impaired
• a mini retail space that can house ambulant traders: the aim over time is to animate this space throughout the day, with an offering suited to each period (coffee, snacks, smoothies, etc.)
• a three-sided interactive display panel showing classified ads from within Paris (one of the screens is accessible to wheelchair users)
• a self-service docking station for electrically assisted bicycles: this service is being trialled with a community of users recruited in the local area, who have free access for one month
• a self-service book exchange library offering free books using the principle of “leave a book, take another”
• public WiFi and an electrical socket for recharging small personal equipment
• a defibrillator for emergency use
• baggage resting platforms and a courtesy mirror.
A relaxing, comfortable atmosphere
• bench seats in metal and tiling,
unusual materials in public spaces, whose design is a reminder of the transport
context (bevelled white surfaces, like the walls of metro stations)
• the central wall of the station is made of decorative urban glass, which is heated when external temperatures drop, giving passengers seated on the seats in front of the wall a slight sensation of warmth
• lighting can be adjusted according to the time of day across the central area, with three additional specific individually lit spaces
• the station also has an audio environment created by an innovative and invisible technology: sound is not produced by loudspeakers but is transmitted through the glass walls themselves, producing sound by resonance that is limited to the immediate environment of the station.
In the central area, the audio
environment is synchronised with the lighting on a theme of the changing skies.
Changing slowly over time, sounds are light and harmonious.
In the library area, users will be able to “leaf through” sounds with a simple hand gesture, discovering sounds to encourage reading and daydreams, drawn from natural environments and the background noises of the world.
Lastly, a brief musical jingle will be played in the central area when a bus is approaching.
RATP’s Osmose project
To increase the visibility of its
development of future transport facilities and their synergy with urban
environments, in 2009 RATP undertook a project, christened Osmose. This
research programme aims to promote sustainable urban enhancements, improvements
in the functions and services provided to passengers, and high-quality
architecture, design and urban landscaping.
Initially, RATP focused on metro stations with a view to the Grand Paris programme, and in May 2010 presented the results of its work, which were the fruit of its collaboration with three architectural practices: three different forms for an “Osmose metro station“
As a contribution to the European Bus System of the Future (EBSF) project, RATP has sought to examine how similar conclusions can take shape on the level of bus stops and bus stations in the public space, by developing an “Osmose bus station”.
The EBSF research programme
For more than 10 years now, RATP has been involved at a European level in creating the next generation of solutions for bus transport, and was the initiator of a joint project between seven urban transport operators (Keolis, Veolia Transdev, SRWT – TEC, TPG, Carris, HUR and RATP). Joined in 2003 by the International Association of Public Transport (UITP), this project has undertaken advanced design work to help develop an understanding of how the bus mode must adapt to remain an attractive means of transport in cities.
Following this early work, the EBSF project was launched in response to a call for projects under the European Commission’s Framework Programme for Research and Development n°7 (FP7). Begun in 2008, the project aims to improve the image of bus travel and to make it more attractive. The project has a total budget of €26 million over a four-year period (2008 – 2012), making it one of the largest projects undertaken by the European Commission in urban transport.
Coordinated and managed by UITP, this programme brings together 47 partners from 11 countries and involves representatives from across the system (13 industrial partners, 9 local and international operators, 4 organising authorities, 5 national associations and 16 universities, as well as consultants and research centres).
The aim of the project is to redefine the bus mode as a system, adapting it to the specific features of European cities. It aims to improve the attractiveness and the image of bus networks, by drawing on a global approach that integrates vehicles, infrastructure, stations, urban integration, information systems and methods of operation.
Under EBSF seven trial projects have already been launched in European cities (Budapest, Madrid, Rouen, Gothenburg, Bremerhaven, Brunoy and Rome). RATP’s experimental project is the 8th such trial and the only one exclusively dedicated to a transport facility.