Designer transport

Posted: 27 September 2006 | ET | No comments yet

What will public transport in the future look like? The answer to this lies with the young transport designers coming into the industry.

In June this year a design exhibition called New Designers took place in London, UK. This annual exhibition showcases the work of graduate designers in all design disciplines from art colleges and universities across the UK. At this years show there were a number of striking public transport designs, which are presented below.

What will public transport in the future look like? The answer to this lies with the young transport designers coming into the industry. In June this year a design exhibition called New Designers took place in London, UK. This annual exhibition showcases the work of graduate designers in all design disciplines from art colleges and universities across the UK. At this years show there were a number of striking public transport designs, which are presented below.

What will public transport in the future look like? The answer to this lies with the young transport designers coming into the industry.

In June this year a design exhibition called New Designers took place in London, UK. This annual exhibition showcases the work of graduate designers in all design disciplines from art colleges and universities across the UK. At this years show there were a number of striking public transport designs, which are presented below.

Designer: Christopher Lowe

Concept: Inner City Bus


Automobiles are the most space-intensive form of urban transport, they produce excessive amounts of pollution and can be intimidating to pedestrians and cyclists. J.H. Crawford’s book ‘Carfree Cities’ argues convincingly that a car free city is a better choice than today’s automobile-dependent cities. The streets used to be the heart and soul of the community, but this has been taken away by the automobile. J.H. Crawford believes ‘the challenge is to remove cars and trucks from cities while at the same time improving mobility and reducing its total costs’.


The original concept looked to the future where many of us may find ourselves living and working in carfree cities, and proposed to develop a public transport system that could be successfully implemented into such a city. It aimed to tackle problems associated with bus and automobile alike; intimidation, pollution, accessibility, poor public image, congestion and an inefficient infrastructure.

A trolley bus was an ideal starting place to push forward the concept as they are a totally electric transport system, thus eliminating air pollution. New technologies greatly influenced the way the bus looked and functioned. The use of a magnetic guidance system along with new high capacity batteries allowed the vehicle to become driverless as well as cheaper and less disruptive to implement than a trolley bus or tram system. These technologies resulted in the concept evolving from a trolley bus into the final concept, the Inner City Bus, a sustainable driverless public transport service.

Styling and Structure

To combat intimidation and poor public image, the styling and structure of the bus was of utmost importance. In order to reduce intimidation the bus’s dimensions were calculated using an ergonomic package. This package showed the most efficient use of space enabling the vehicle to be smaller in size than many of today’s buses. The symmetrical design allowed for standardised components that can be used in several positions throughout the vehicle and bus stop.

Much of the styling was inspired from modern city architecture. The bus’s structure is created by a metal frame which is bolted onto the low-floor chassis, glass panels are glued and bolted to the frame for both strength and aesthetics. Both the roof and floor to ceiling glass panels give the passenger a sense of space and openness while the tinted lower half creates privacy.


High capacity batteries allow the bus to travel up to 100km without being recharged and bus stops en route will ‘top-up’ the batteries throughout the day. Electro Luminescent technology is used to light the interior and exterior of the vehicle, this technology is paper thin and very energy efficient.

To become driverless the bus follows magnetic markers that are embedded into the road, magnetic rulers sense these markers and steer the bus accordingly. Ultra-sonic sensors can detect if there is an object in the buses path, and as a secondary safety device, contact sensing bumpers will detect the object and automatically stop the bus.

Four-wheel steering reduces the bus’s turning circle, allowing for shallower arches and more interior space. All four wheels contain in-wheel motors and use regenerative breaking to conserve energy.


As the bus will operate solely in city centre regions, passenger journey times are expected to be short and so the interior design is simple and spacious. The interior is designed for standing, with spring loaded seating to save space when not in use. While in the upright position the seats also act as a leaning rest. The interior is easily accessible for wheelchair users with space for the wheelchair turning circle.

Bus Stop

The bus stop’s structure, like the bus, is made up of a metal frame and glass panels. The frame holds the charger in the air so that the bus can connect automatically when pulling into the stop. The bus is then able to charge while passengers are transferring. In order to ensure safe and easy transfer, the platform is level with the bus’s floor. A slim design saves on pavement space and ramps at either end allow easy access.


The vehicle will be monitored from its headquarters by fleet management. Several buses will be running on each route and therefore keeping control of them is pivotal. CCTV cameras in the buses and stops will constantly monitor activity and there is a Human Machine Interface for passengers to contact fleet management should a problem arise.

Future Applications and Developments

The bus’s symmetrical design allows for easy modification to suit numerous situations. One application may be the use of the bus at airports to transport passengers to and from the aeroplanes. The interior is already well suited to standing passengers travelling short journeys and the straight forward introduction of magnetic markers into the tarmac would guide the bus safely around the airport.

In cities the addition of solar panels into the roof would reduce the bus’s dependence on the bus stops for recharging en route.

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Designer: Amarpreet Singh Gill

Concept: 2012 Experience Overview

In June of 2005, London won the race to host the Olympics in 2012. Hosting the Olympics and Paralympics Games will provide a huge catalyst for urban and environmental regeneration in London. London’s blueprint for the Games contains a number of objectives to achieve a sustainable legacy which improves the environment, health and quality of life for local communities. The Olympic Park will be in east London and will transform one of the city’s most underdeveloped areas into a model for sustainable urban development, building inner city communities linked to sport, the environment and health.

The concept is designed for people at the Olympics, to transport them from one venue to another on a swift, relaxed and comfortable journey. The user would simply enter the vehicle, choose their destination on the touch screen map, enter a small fee, then sit back and enjoy the ride and the sites. The concept will transport people between Olympic venues using a designated lane which would run around the entire Olympic park site. When the vehicle arrives at the destination the vehicle would park at a reserved area similar to a taxi rank where it waits for the next fare.

The ‘2012 Experience’ utilises Self-Drive Technology, eliminating the need for drivers and ticket conductors. This technology combines the use of sensors in the vehicle and the infrastructure with GPRS tracking systems, similar to Automated Guided Vehicles used to load cargo at docks.

Objectives set by London’s Olympic Committee state that all public transport vehicles must be carbon-free by 2012. Therefore the ‘2012 Experience’ uses hydrogen fuel cell technology and electric motors mounted on the wheel hubs to provide its power. The concept creates a whole new generation of carbon-free public transport, by the giving the users the option to personalise their route and create their own tour.

In addition, the objectives for the Olympics also states that all forms of transport must be wheelchair accessible, therefore ‘2012 experience’ concept has a rear entrance with an automatic ramp and has a complete fold-away interior.

The vehicle’s styling has taken inspiration from contemporary architecture and regeneration in London. The combination of simple geometry and clean lines create a simplistic yet pleasant design.

To capture the atmosphere of the Olympics whilst in the vehicle, an open top second floor was introduced to the design. Maximising the use of the surroundings, also gives tourists the perfect platform to view London from. This should enhance the users’ experience of the London Olympics and leave them with a lasting impression.

The interior begins completely folded away with areas for perched seating, the vehicle can accommodate up to 18 people when in the folded away state, ideal for groups and families. When the seats are folded out the vehicle can seat up to eight people comfortably in the lower area. The upper level can seat another six people and provide standing space for a further four.

The feature of the interior is the touch-screen display; this would be the starting point of the journey. As soon as the occupants enter the vehicle the display is triggered and a welcome message is announced and asks them to select their destination using the touch-screen. Once they have selected their journey the display turns into a vending machine, offering the occupants a range of hot and cold drinks, snacks, and various forms of memorabilia. Incorporating RSS (Really Simple Syndication) into the screen will give a constant feed to any news channel on the internet. Users will also be able to select the news channel they want to receive, and never miss an event or result.

On the exterior of the vehicle there is a small, tasteful advertisement board, carrying a subtle but noticeable advertisement. The advertisement would contain a hyper-tag; this is a small chip inside the ad board, which sends out a Bluetooth version of the advertisement directly to people’s mobile phones. The receiver needs to have their Bluetooth switched on, and then they get the option to accept or discard the message.

After the 2012 Olympic Games are over the concept could be implemented into major city centres or tourist destinations, in the UK or around the world. There it can continue providing a luxurious tour/taxi service. Furthermore there is always another big sporting or music events just around the corner, the concept could be used as a specialist vehicle available only during major worldwide events.


  • 2 tier design
  • Complete fold-away interior for maximum numbers of users
  • Upper level Balcony to take in the views of the surroundings
  • Hybrid engine set-up to provide a carbon-free service
  • Interactive screen for destination selection and memorabilia
  • Rear ramp access to cater for all users at the Olympics
  • Large luxurious interior seats for users to travel in comfort
  • Light-sensitive glass
  • Hyper-tag advertisement boards

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Designer: Rudy Kurniawan Tedja

Concept: A tram for the Tyne & Wear PTA

The city council of Newcastle upon Tyne has a vision to build a vibrant and exciting European city. They wanted it to be inclusive and safe for everyone whilst being sustainable and environmentally responsible. The council also wants to build the city’s image around its heritage, local pride and the characteristic of the region on which people identify themselves with. To warrant a sustainable growth and prosperity of the region, the improvement of the quality of life for the people in the City plays a vital role.

Why Tram?

Tram systems are common throughout Europe and were common throughout the western world in the early 20th century. Although they disappeared from many cities for many years in the mid 20th century, they have made a comeback in recent years.

There are several considerations which made me look at the tram as a solution for Newcastle public transportation. Tram offers safe, comfortable, smooth and speedy journey. Since it is operated by electric motor, it produces very low emission. Trams are also very popular among the passengers according to research did by Carmen Hass-Klau (Bus or Light Rail: Making the Right Choice, 2000).

The terrain of Newcastle consists of hills and steep climbs which makes it hard for public transport such as busses to overcome. Tram is advantageous in these conditions due to the rail support. Because trams run over ground, it is preferred by people with very young children, or disability. It has better accessibility compared to underground transportation.

The Tram is designed with the latest light-rail technology to represent the Tyne and Wear area. With breathtaking design and image, the Tram will be an iconic feature unique to Newcastle. It will bring a sense of pride and confidence to the Geordies.


Field research and the information provided by Newcastle City Council suggest that Newcastle has a high percentage of people with disability and high number of baby prams on the street. The objective of the design is to try to make everything wider. Wider doors and aisles accommodates for better movement and manoeuvre for wheelchair users. Mothers with single and double baby prams will also feel the benefit. Wide windows create the spacious atmosphere inside the Tram. Better visibility from inside and outside the Tram makes the passengers feel safe inside the tram.

Design Aesthetics

The concept fuses modern technology with inspiration from local heritage. The outlook design of the tram is inspired by the old tram in Byker. The feature highlight of the design is the single spotlight on the front of the tram. This concept was chosen to create the nostalgic feeling and celebrate the comeback of the street car in Tyne and Wear area. The outline of the tram was inspired by the shape of a ship. This reflects the fact that Newcastle has a history of ship building.

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