On 30 September 2015, this three year FP7 project closed. As a final post, here is a global summary of all the project’s activities during these past three years.
The Project context
Cities need efficient transport systems to support their economy and the welfare of their inhabitants. Around 85% of the EU’s GDP is generated in cities. Urban areas face today the major challenge of making transport sustainable from the environmental (CO2, air pollution, noise), competitiveness (congestion) and social (demographic change, inclusion, health) point of view. Addressing these challenges is also essential for the success of the EU’s overall strategy to combat climate change, achieve the 20-20-20 objective and promote cohesion. To be more efficient transport systems require a greater integration at urban level (city and its hinterland):
- between the various urban transport modes and their various networks, as well as between urban, regional and long distance networks, in order to improve the functioning of the city in a global economy;
- between urban transport networks and land use, in order to influence the development of cities in a way favoring over time a greater use of environmental friendly modes and especially public transport.
In that regard, an innovative design and operation of urban transport interchanges can play an essential role, thanks to a holistic approach of their various functions as urban transport networks nodes and through an appropriate integration of transport services and activities in and around the station. This represented the driving mission of the NODES project.
The overall objective of NODES was to build a Toolbox to support European cities in the design and operation of new or upgraded interchanges, as a way to provide greater support, services and satisfaction to the travelers and users, as well as to interchange operators, and those societal and economic actors depending on the efficiency of interchange operations. For this purpose, NODES has identified five topics which together address the key functions of interchanges:
1. Strategies for integrated land use planning with urban passenger infrastructure planning.
2. Innovative approaches relating to the design of new or upgraded efficient transport interchanges.
3. Intermodal operations and information provision.
4. Management and business models: the interchange as business case for the local economy and in itself.
5. Energy efficient and environmental friendly interchanges.
Towards the NODES Toolbox
The first step that was completed was to identify and consolidate the available knowledge on those five topics in a comprehensive and structured State of the Art. This was completed within Work Package 2 and led to the Deliverable D2.1 “State of the Art.”
In parallel to this the future user needs and system requirements were identified. This was build on 43 interviews of end users, local authorities, operators and service providers, as well as further analysis of the results, in particular with the so-called NODES User group.
Performance Criteria and Indicators (PCIs) for the design and operation of interchanges were identified on the basis of the State of the Art analysis and future user needs and system requirements. These PCIs were validated and clustered into a shorter list of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). In order to do so three steps were followed which consisted in prioritising the indicators (and giving references), pointing out missing indicators and looking at data availability. For this, the NODES partners were consulted (the reference sites) as well as the NODES User group. The KPIs were then included in a Database. This work is described in Deliverable D2.2 “Database Performance Criteria and Indicators”. Final conclusions on the work in Work Package 2 were drawn in D2.3 “Report on State of the Art, Criteria and Indicators”.
In the meantime, the NODES Toolbox was developed within Work Package 3. In order to set the framework of this, the first step was to define interchanges (components, objectives, performance measurement, obstacles/success factors of improvements) and propose an interchange typology. These results are summarised in Deliverable D3.1.1 “The NODES Toolbox framework, scenarios and objectives”. In addition, the web-based NODES Toolbox functionalities were defined and a template for each tool was agreed on.
In order to further define the areas in which the tools will be developed, a theme paper was prepared on each of the NODES topics. This formed the basis of the first task-led WP3 deliverables: D3.2.1, D3.3.1, D3.4.1, D3.5.1 and D3.6.1. A draft list of tools was prepared and extensively discussed between experts present inside the consortium, including with the reference sites. Then, this was discussed with the external experts present in the NODES User group. This led to the second set of task-led WP3 deliverables D3.2.2, D3.3.2, D3.4.2, D3.5.2 and D3.6.2. The tools were then worked on individually, fitted into the agreed on template and published online in the NODES Toolbox. In total 83 tools were included.
As an entry point to the Toolbox, a benchmark function was also added. This online “Benchmark tool” allows interchange stakeholders to assess, benchmark their interchange and to be pointed towards a selected list of tools inside the NODES Toolbox. Another entry point was established, which is a set of “tick boxes” directly on the Toolbox web page, which allows practitioners to select tools on different criteria such as interchange type or upgrade objective.
Testing and evaluating the NODES tools
The test phase of the tools took place within Work Package 4. The reference sites are distributed around Europe where interchanges are being built or upgraded: Toulouse (France), Reading (UK), Budapest (Hungary), The Netherlands (three sites), Rouen (France), Rome (Italy), Thessaloniki (Greece), Osnabrück (Germany), Birmingham (UK). These sites were selected because together they correspond to different interchange typologies and cover the whole range of topics included in the project. These applications provided a feedback loop, validating the tools as well as their efficiency.
Before launching this test phase, the framework in which the applications will take place was set. This was defined in Deliverable D4.1 “Guidelines for testing”. This includes the timing, planning, and process of the application phase together with the application reporting template. In addition, the final application site was given per site. After contributing to the tools definition, the reference sites selected the tools they will test locally, within the NODES topic(s) they had selected in the Annex I Description of Work. The tool selection was mapped and gaps were identified and after corrective measures were applied, this led to the final tool selection list. This is explained in Deliverable D4.2 “Study Case and application scenario”. Each test site then completed a report on its testing activities (Deliverables D4.3 to D4.11). In these deliverables, in addition to the demonstration context and site description, each tool received a star rating as well as a score out of 25 based on five criteria: tool relevance to interchange, resource cost, ease of use, learning curve and time taken. The WP4 leader then completed an additional report, summarising the testing results per tool.
The evaluation of the tools and of their application took part in Work Package 5. In order to prepare the evaluation phase effectively, an Evaluation plan was put together. This is described inside Deliverable D5.1 “Evaluation Plan”. The NODES tools were to be evaluated through impact and process evaluation, comparing the measured outputs (physical appearance) and outcomes (measurable or perceived impacts) resulting from the tools’ application.
A local Evaluation plan was defined for each reference site (based on the overall evaluation framework defined in D5.1) to evaluate and validate the effectiveness of the Toolbox by the reference sites. This site-based matrix consists in a selection of KPIs. The drafting of ad-hoc Evaluation forms enabled the collection of local data as well as measuring the Toolbox’s impacts. This was explained in Deliverable D5.2 “Data set for each reference site”, where the data obtained by the “Evaluation Management Team” from the reference site partners was compiled.
Based on the work achieved in WP5, Deliverable D5.3 “Evaluation results and final recommendations as full data set” then compiled the evaluation results and drew final conclusions, including a transferable roadmap. This includes criteria for transferability, lessons learned and final recommendations for successful planning and implementing tools improving urban transport interchanges.
In order to disseminate the results mentioned above, the project the main communication tools were developed. The Dissemination Strategy was prepared together with the NODES corporate identity (Deliverable D6.1 “Dissemination and transfer strategy (including corporate identity)”). The project website was completed in order to provide up to date easy and quick information on the project (www.nodes-interchanges.eu). In addition to this, different social media means were put in place: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. A project leaflet was also prepared and distributed widely. At the end of the project, two communication tools were finalised: a “Catalogue of key-renewal solutions and business case solutions” (D6.5) – which compiles and analyses key renewal solutions in the different topics that were addressed in the project – as well as an “Interchange design and operations toolbox” leaflet (D6.6) which describes and promotes the online NODES Toolbox.
In order to contribute to the objective of the NODES Toolbox becoming the European reference in the field of design and operation of interchanges, different dissemination activities took place including participation in events, publishing a press release and articles. In addition, external interchange experts were consulted on the projects results during five meetings of the NODES User group. The project’s Final Conference brought close to 100 interchange stakeholders together on 22-23 September 2015 in Brussels.
To view the deliverables, click here.