Public transport interchanges drive local economies

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Multimodal transport interchanges are places where people and commercial activities come together, and they offer great opportunities to the local economy. In principle, land around transport hubs is a natural focal point for development due to its inherent accessibility and connectivity advantages and associated commercial potential.

The agglomeration effect means that the local economy benefits from clusters of economic activity around interchanges. This can leverage wider development opportunities by providing a focus for investment in the surrounding area and increasing confidence among investors, serving as capacity for further growth.

Transport hubs can be particularly effective in supporting high density development in the station vicinity, but can also enable an urban area as a whole to grow in a sustainable way over the long term. A holistic approach integrating infrastructure and land use planning can facilitate and reinforce these positive spillover effects on the local economy.

There is recognised potential for what an interchange can deliver in terms of additional functions offered to users, and the effect of retail both on the user experience and on the local economy should not be underestimated. The Kamppi interchange in Helsinki is an example of exploiting the surface area for commercial activities. The city council modified the urban conditions in order to benefit from the land by selling property to build a commercial centre, offices, and residential areas. With the profit made from the sale of land, the upgrading of the transport interchange was financed. This means that local authorities or governments may encourage property development (residential and/or commercial) close to transport hubs on the promise that improved accessibility leads to higher land value, in order to finance and create a source of revenue to maintain the public transport systems.

The effect of interchanges on the local economy is among the areas in which the European project NODES is identifying tools that improve the design and operation of new or upgraded urban interchanges. This 3-year project (which UITP is coordinating) is co-funded by Seventh Framework Programme of the European Community for research, technological development and demonstration activities.

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