It’s hoped the mobility hubs will reverse some of the negative effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on shared and sustainable transport in Scotland.
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Scotland is set to introduce European-style ‘mobility hubs’ that bring various forms of transport together in one place. The model has been identified as a strategic priority in a report for the Scottish Government.
Mobility hubs are particularly common in Germany and Austria and other countries on the continent as a way of revitalising city centres.
Authorities hope the project can build on the trend sparked by the coronavirus pandemic for people staying and working more locally, reducing the need to travel unsustainably and re-energising towns to help local businesses recover.
Hubs bring together public transport stops for buses, trams and trains with bike share schemes, car clubs, e-scooters, electric vehicle charging points, bike racks and shared taxi rides. These hubs can also be home to community facilities such as cafés, fitness areas, green space, package collection points and WIFI and phone charging – all with covered waiting areas, real-time journey planning information, walking areas and disabled access.
The hubs contribute to the goal of ‘20 minute neighbourhoods’ which enable people to live, learn, and meet their needs within a 20 minute walk of their home.
There are fears that the changes enforced on us by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as an increase in private car use, could become permanent unless action is taken.
“Scotland’s city and town centres were already facing significant challenges prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the report says.
“Our living and working patterns in recent months have raised further fundamental questions about their future. This intervention can help our town centres to respond to current and future challenges so that they can adapt and be vibrant, creative, enterprising and accessible places to live, work and visit.”
CoMo UK, a charity which promotes the use of shared transport across the UK, expressed its support for proposals.
“There have never been so many pressing reasons why we need to rethink how we move and allocate street space to travel – from addressing air quality problems, decarbonisation of the transport sector, supporting the active travel agenda, decongesting and revitalising city centres and helping local businesses,” said Lorna Finlayson, Scotland director of CoMoUK.
“The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we move around, and it’s vital that as we recover we properly manage space for public transport and shared mobility modes as an alternative to private cars.
“Public transport is the original shared mode, however the lines between public and shared transport are blurring – there are many new shared modes from bike share schemes to car clubs which are changing behaviour and user needs.
“We look forward to working with the Scottish Government to introduce mobility hubs here and learn from our European neighbours how to transform the way we get around our cities.”
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