There is always a balance between providing convenient and seamless interchange between transport modes and the constraints of the build environment. Transport planners need to make a pragmatic judgement on the cost of overcoming obstacles versus the benefit to journey experience. Visiting Nice, France recently I saw that the modern tram system built through the city passes along a main arterial road into the city centre passes close to the main railway station but does not travel up to the station entrance. Whilst tram passengers into the city centre are not inconvenienced by a diversion into the station area, passengers interchanging between the two are required to walk nearly 300m along the street.
For passengers arriving at the mainline railway station, the interchange to the tram is not particularly well publicised or clear, with only a few small directional signs at the exit to the station, then they disappear.
Walking beyond the mainline station entrance can feel like you have left the rail environment and taken a wrong turn.
For a main stop on the tramway, Gare Thiers stop is rather sparse, with only a small shelter and a single ticket machine on each platform. When I visited there was a queue of passengers attempting to buy tickets as numerous trams passed. Noticeably there was no staff presence or obvious way to seek advice on using the system.
This is a little disappointing when compared to the more landmark station which you’ve left behind!
Author: Liam Henderson