Futuristic smart bus shelters have been unveiled in Manchester city centre, which allow commuters to charge their phones and tablets wirelessly or by cable (providing they have their own USB cable with them) and get online with free WiFi hotspots.
The new shelters are in Manchester city centre on Piccadilly, a few hundred yards from the railway 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 the scheme proves successful.
Councillor Andrew Fender, chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) committee, said: “This is a really exciting and unique scheme for Manchester as this pilot shelter is the first of its kind in the UK.
“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 – especially in the city centre.
“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.”
“We’ll be asking people who use this bus stop for their views over the coming weeks and more new services and facilities could be trialled 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 – co-founder of the legendary Factory Records – is working in conjunction with design firm Aurel Design Urbain, bus group RATP, and ad firm JCDecaux.
It is understood that 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 to WiFi on public transport is becoming widespread in the UK, however in the case of free WiFi whilst you wait at a bus stop, well this could just be the start of the revolution.
The major bus operators in Manchester all offer free WiFi, however, some tend to place data usage caps on their customers. So perhaps it’ll be easier to download that new episode of the Great British Bake Off at the bus stop, before your ride home in the future.
The shelter is being funded by the Department for Transport.