Smart bus shelters have been unveiled in Manchester, UK, which allow commuters to charge their devices and get online for free. The new shelters are in Manchester city centre on Piccadilly, a few hundred yards from the train station. The rollout is only a pilot for the time being but could come to the entire region of Greater Manchester, Britain's second largest urban area, if successful.
Councillor Andrew Fender, chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) committee, said:
"One of our key aims is to provide an improved public transport network that encourages more people to choose sustainable and more environmentally friendly ways to travel...Research indicates that improved public transport environments – with technology built in – encourage more people to use them and that's what we're testing out here.”
The bus shelter has a modular design allowing for it to be adapted and deployed to other sites in the Greater Manchester area and offer different services if needed. Peter Saville, the shelter's designer, used an “attractive dark wood ceiling” to make the shelter look better, aesthetically, and give it a more comfortable design.
Transport for Greater Manchester will use the bus stops' “digital advertising opportunities” to raise more income which it'll reinvest into the public transport system in the region.
Free to access Wi-Fi is becoming widespread in the UK with many shops offering connections as well as public transport. Last year, new buses were rolled out in the West Midlands which have free Wi-Fi access; after a few months, however, users had a daily data usage cap. Vandalism is also a problem with the UK's transport system with smashed windows in bus shelters. It'll be interesting to see how the new bus stops, especially outside the city, cope.