Interchanging is not always a nuisance – journey time is what matters

Clear information and a sense of safety are what public transport passengers most want when interchanging. In addition, passengers value services at interchanges but issues related to the journey, such as journey time, are what matter the most. These are some of the findings from studies included in HSL’s Solmu project. The aim of the project was to find ways to reduce the stress caused by interchanges.

Improving the interchange experience is particularly important because public transport is increasingly rail-based and direct journeys are decreasing. The project resulted in an interchange development program to be implemented over the next three years. In future, HSL will focus even more on improving passengers’ interchange experience by means of planning, signage and information.

Speed is the most important issue for commuters and experienced users of public transport. These passengers do no mind one or two interchanges as long as the total journey time is as short as possible. Some passengers cannot stand the uncertainty related to interchanges and are prepared to travel for a longer time as long as the journey does not involve transfers. All passengers appreciate clear information and safe interchanges. Services at interchanges are valued only when direct journeys are going well.

 “One way to make journeys more pleasant and people’s everyday life a bit easier is to locate other services, such as grocery stores, at interchanges,” says HSL's Director of Public Transport DepartmentTero Anttila. Commercial agents are interested in public transport nodes and interchanges and businesses are increasingly taking up locations in centers and public transport nodes. However, only fast-access services such as kiosks and vending machines can operate relying only on interchanging passengers. Other services need a resident base and jobs to ensure a sufficient customer flow.

Program to improve interchanges

In the Solmu project, a program was created to improve 42 public transport interchanges that are not developed as part of other land use or transport projects in the near future. The interchanges were divided on the basis of passenger numbers and location into interchange terminals (e.g. Central Railway Station, Kamppi, Tikkurila, Leppävaara), important interchanges (e.g. Herttoniemi, Huopalahti, Myyrmäki) and interchanges (e.g. Maunula, Pukinmäki, Nihtisilta). Goals were established for the different types of interchanges in terms of signage, information, safety, services, tidiness and maintenance.

The 42 interchanges were evaluated from customer and a technical perspective. The results of the evaluation and development ideas were written down on four-page interchange cards. HSL will implement the development ideas together with its owner municipalities and other stakeholders in 2017-2019.

“As several actors are responsible for the factors affecting passengers’ interchange experience – physical environment, services, operation and timetables – we need cooperation. For example, in Espoon keskus, we are going to fix the broken timetable displays and signposting and harmonize stop numbers,” says the project manager of the Solmu project Riikka Aaltonen.