Osmose - The bus starts here

Photo: ©RATP Denis Sutton Installed near the Gare de Lyon station, the prototype platform, named Osmose, offers a host of features and services to keep waiting passengers comfortable and occupied, and wanting to come back for more.

“We wanted to change this waiting area into a living space,” said RATP head designer Yo Kaminagai. And it is surprising just how much you can pack into an 85-square metre bus stop, of which 30+ metres are under cover (adieu wind and rain!). “The objective has been to assemble a certain number of innovations in a coherent fashion,” adds Mr Kaminagai.

To create a warm and friendly atmosphere, unlike anything experienced at the traditional stop (think wet, windy, cold, slippery), the RATP’s design teams, together with the architect-designer Marc Aurel, came up with a mix of features to please: a decorated central glass panel that heats up when the outdoor temperatures are low, a lighting ambiance that varies according to the time of day and is synchronised with ‘light and harmonic’ sound effects, real wood decking, and original metal and ceramic benches with stylish, white bevelled surfaces.

French urban furniture specialist Mobil Concepts was charged with making this vision a reality, and in the process demonstrating that innovations as regards products and materials need not overwhelm users, but can, instead, be integrated into the project. And this close attention to the details of the materials, surfaces, and lighting is immediately ‘felt’ at the platform. Yes, this new take on the bus stop is definitely in a class of its own. Yet despite the overall harmony, one design aspect Mobility found disruptive was the sudden different levels of the platform floor itself, with some jutting edges and unexpected drops not immediately obvious to the naked eye that are bound to hinder pushchairs and wheeled suitcases, and possibly cause people to lose their footing.

Services galore

While some may cry bells and whistles, the thoroughly designed stop neatly showcases the services on offer, services that are anchored around needs: a ticket machine (sheltered) to avoid queuing when boarding the bus, an electric bike station ‘for neighbourhood users’, a Wi-Fi hotspot, information displays, a power point, plus hot dogs and coffee to go. The touch screen carrying local ads is a modern take on the card in the newsagent’s window, while the shelves of books copy the ‘take one, leave one behind’ concept seen in trendy bars and restaurants. Whether the books will survive nocturnal Paris is another question. But does it really matter? Likewise for the battery-driven bikes with their hand-crafted leather seats, each machine worth over €1,000. The whole point of the concept platform is to test the waters, to see just how the public and users adopt and use it. As the RATP points out, “it’s all about making the bus stop a social place.” Adds Umberto Guida, director of EBSF: “The project aims to explore future and innovative bus systems, solutions that are integrated into daily urban life, and make the bus a more attractive mode of transport.”

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About Mobility

Mobility is a magazine that keeps its readers up to speed on the news and events in Europe’s collective transport industry with articles on developments in legislation, regulations and standards, the economic situation, advanced technologies, innovative solutions, new trends and current issues. Mobility is pleased to be a media partner of the 2013 Polis Conference.