Bus stations are generally information-poor, displaying little more than the time of the next bus arrival. But MIT’s SENSEable City Lab envisions a richer bus station experience that could, according to MIT’s Carlo Ratti, “change the whole experience of urban travel.”
The EyeStop bus shelter, developed in conjunction with Florence, Italy and public transportation authority ATF, is covered in touch-sensitive screens and e-ink. The screens allow riders to map out bus trips on interactive maps, surf the Internet, track surrounding pollutants, use cell phones to interact with the shelter, and even post ads to an electronic community board.
MIT’s bus shelter is self-sustaining thanks to on-site solar panels. Each EyeStop is built to take in the maximum amount of sunlight possible and blend into its surroundings by using materials like steel, glass, and local stone. It’s an eye-catching design, but the shelter’s multiple electronic screens and solar panels could prove too expensive for many cities.
The EyeStop design is only one of many futuristic bus stop concepts to pop up recently. Novell-Puig Design in Barcelona, Spain proposed a self-sustaining modular bus stop earlier this year designed to provide shelter without creating a large environmental impact. The bus stop’s seats are made of easily-disassembled recycled plastics, and seat supporting elements are constructed out of composites of recycled concrete. The roof is one big solar panel that generates enough energy to light up the structure. Novell Puig’s low-tech, low-impact concept is much more realistic than MIT’s for cash-strapped areas. In the long run, the solar panels could even save money on lighting costs.
The MIT Mobile Experience Laboratory designed another bus stop, dubbed the Interactive Bus Stop, in 2006. The bus stop features an LED facade that visualizes “ambient information, as well as quantity and topology of virtual social interaction taking place in relation to the place.” The Interactive Bus Stop also contains a touch-sensitive screen with access to transportation information, and and a live-ticker shows real-time traffic data. The design is original, to be sure, but the energy required to keep it running–and the cash required to build it–is probably substantial. Without solar panels or other alternative power sources, the Interactive Bus Stop will remain little more than a concept.
Curitiba, Brazil’s already-installed bus stops don’t have solar panels or electronic displays, but they do provide maximum shelter from the wind and rain. Each “tubo” is made of a metal frame and curved glass–simple, elegant, and low-tech.