Bus stops will be heated and have changing rooms and Wi-Fi in a bid to create eco-friendly park and rides for cyclists.
They will also act as a focal point for cyclists, electric car drivers and rail commuters to switch easily between different modes of transport, with bosses calling the new stops “mobility hubs”.
Solar-powered lighting and heating, electric bike storage, shared scooters and phone charging points all feature in the plans being put forward by Go-Ahead Group, which runs nine bus companies nationally.
Its efforts to create an attractive alternative to cars will be revealed in a report due to be published on Tuesday in a bid for funding under the Government’s £3 billion national bus service strategy, the deadline for which is in October.
The report, dubbed the ‘Future Mobility Hubs’ blueprint, paints a picture of bells-and-whistles bus stops in urban, suburban and rural locations, with bike repair, playgrounds, community gardens and even rent-by-the-hour desk space for people on the move.
Bosses hope work on the first of these new bus stops could begin within a year to 18 months, with Plymouth City Council indicating on its website it wants to install up to 50 of the hubs.
Go-Ahead-owned Oxford Bus Company has proposed around 30 sites for mobility hubs in Oxfordshire – including some at existing park & ride locations.
Mark Anderson, commercial director of Go-Ahead Group, said: “We want to make public transport as accessible and convenient as possible so that taking the bus becomes a really attractive alternative to using a car.
“The shift to public transport is absolutely vital if we’re going to achieve net zero in the UK by 2050.
“So we’re trying to be ambitious to get people thinking in a new way about the bus.”
Target of reaching net zero
Getting more people using buses is a central part of the Government’s efforts to reach net zero by 2050.
According to a report published in December by the independent Climate Change Committee, chaired by Lord Deben, nine per cent of present car mileage would need to be moved onto public transport, cycling or walking by 2035 to meet emissions targets. This would need to rise to 17 per cent by 2050.
Go-Ahead designed the “mobility hub” plans with engineering and urban planning group Arup in a bid to find ways to link buses more effectively with other modes of transport.
The cost of the plans remain unclear, with the investment required set to vary depending on the size of the hub and its location.
However, councils could generate revenue through bike hire, cafes and payment for shared work space, and the level of investment could be staggered as the hubs have been designed so they can be built up over time.
Mr Anderson said: “We’re thinking bigger than just buses and saying: ‘Let’s look at the mobility needs of our communities and find ways that help fix that’.
“I think the humble bus stop needs some care and attention and the kind of things we’re talking about in this report will be really transformative. The idea of the bus stop being comfortable is a given and we need to fix that.
“When you add in the community aspects of playgrounds and food and drink and areas where you can socialise, where you might even use co-working spaces, that really is a real fresh look at what bus stops could look like and that is a real game changer.”