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Mobility Hubs as Pioneers
of Intermodal Transport

Guest article by Matthias Lauer

Places that enable a seamless change of transport mode are currently emerging everywhere around the world. Read on as we dive deeper into the developments in detail.

Mobility hubs are places where passengers can change transport modes, ideally seamlessly, and often in combination with loading options for vehicles or user services. Making this transition work helps mobility hubs establish intermodal transport as an alternative to private transport. Solutions such as park & ride, indoor bike parking or bike sharing terminals at railway stations are well-established. Lately, modern, internet-based mobility hubs have increasingly attracted attention. We look at how this began and the latest developments.

Organised intermodal transport arrived with the first railway stations, which by linking urban centres raised demand for inner-city horse-driven passenger transport. Private coaches, ones for hire, and later on buses took arrivals to urban destinations or brought passengers to the railway station.

Coaches made way for bicycles as well as cars, cabs and buses with internal combustion engines. However, for a long time these were not integrated in a digital system, instead existed unconnected in an analogue world, where privately owned bicycles and cars were and still are kept unused. Around the turn of the century transport associations, led by Hong Kong but also in Europe, and followed soon by London and Paris, began offering smart card solutions allowing the various types of public transport in conurbations to be used together.

The image shows a sign of a mobility hub in Berlin.

Modern mobility hubs are now joining up the already existing parts by combining public rail and road transport services in a single place with shared mobility solutions such as scooters, mopeds, bicycles and e-bikes, facilitating a whole range of transport combinations. In Berlin there are currently eight Jelbi mobility points, while Dresden is planning a network totalling 76 mobility hubs. However, it is not just cities but rural areas where services are emerging, such as Barnim in Brandenburg and the Ammer-Loisach region near Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

Besides physical mobility hubs, decentralised digital mobility hubs have sprung up in the shape of multimodal apps. By using apps for city areas such as Jelbi in Berlin or MVGo in Munich, as well as intermodal apps such as Whim or FreeNow, one can change transport modes wherever vehicles are available and an internet connection exists. Modern mobility hubs – both physical and digital – are still only in their infancy, but hold great promise for helping intermodal transport take off in the years to come.

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