Newcastle University provides Metro route to the future

Laura Higgins discusses the involvement of Newcastle University's Open Lab in the development of the Metro.

19th October 2016

Newcastle University’s Open Lab has been asked by Nexus to help run a series of events to involve the public in designing the Metrocars of the future.

The Metro is a vital amenity in the region, serving over 40 million passengers per year, and the Metro will be asking the community to share their thoughts about the design of the first Metrocars, since 1980.

Throughout November, pop-up labs will take place across the region to enable the public to have their say on issues such as seating arrangements, space for prams and luggage, the availability of Wi-Fi access and accessibility for wheelchair users.

Sunil Rodger, a PhD student at Open Lab who is involved in the project, commented: “Whilst the Metro was innovative in catering for wheelchair users when it was designed 40 years ago, times have moved on.

“Disabled people still often experience accessibility barriers in everyday life, including on public transport.

“We are keen for members of the public with diverse needs to get involved, so that their ideas help inform the design of Metrocars for the future.”

Modern technology enables the public to participate in this exciting project via mobile phones, tablets and web-based tools. Co-researchers are also producing a collaborative video, filming current journeys on the Metro.

Simon Bowen, a research associate at Open Lab commented that public research “gives people a voice in how the future Metro should look.”

By sharing personal experiences and providing detailed feedback on current infrastructure, the public can help to develop public transport for the future.

Nexus have also recognized the importance of the local student population’s input into the process, with a significant number of students in Tyne and Wear using the Metro daily.

Through collaboration between Nexus and Newcastle University, students have the opportunity to help transform the region’s public transport to cater for current and future generations.

Through these events Nexus are encouraging student participation in the Metro’s Grand Design.

Newcastle University’s team will try to ensure that the Metro remains an innovative and efficient mode of travelling and to help Nexus, in a once-in-a-generation opportunity, to take part in shaping the infrastructure of the future.

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