Huge challenges face the operators of transport hubs over the next decade as the nature of mobility changes.
Driverless cars are set to challenge the very need for collective overland movement from one fixed point to another fixed point.
There will be no need for anyone to pass a driving test for a car that drives itself.
Computer control means road space and speed will be optimised. Traffic jams will become a thing of the past as vehicles are connected to the internet of things.
There’s no need to own a car if one can be booked Uber-style for individual journeys. Personal mobility becomes available to all.
If people are willing now to own cars to drive, despite all the hassles that go along with personal mobility, it is set to become even more popular once driverless cars are here.
Why will people even need to consider buses, coaches, trains, and airlines to move from point to point?
Before train operators hold their hands up, pack up their bags, and go home, there are very good reasons to believe that public transport has a relevant and rosy future.
Climate change driven by humanity’s addiction to burning fossil fuels, is the biggest challenge facing today’s world. Signs are that more people are beginning to recognise the need to do their bit to reduce their impact on our future.
The recent UK general election has seen climate change emerge as a major issue for the first time.
Activists such as the teenager Greta Thunberg are leading a worldwide increase in awareness, activity, and positive attitudes to doing things, with the environment at the forefront of their thoughts.
Will environmental awareness be enough for them to want to eschew the benefits of personal mobility in favour of collective transportation?
Only time will tell for sure, but the signs are already there that young people who live in cities, are abandoning the attractions, and the costs, of personal mobility in favour of using public transport.
City centre housing developments are being built without parking spaces, in a sign that at least young workers are willing to use buses, coaches and trains.
Airports and airlines probably face their greatest challenge from climate change. As governments look to tackle carbon dioxide emissions, operators and airlines will be looking at ways to lessen their impact on the planet.
Electric planes are now being developed, as airlines look to the future. And there looks to remain a strong demand for travel across and between continents as globalisation continues to be a driver of economic activity.
So, is there a future for transport hubs?
We think yes, there certainly is but there is no excuse for operators to sit on their laurels and wait for success.
There remains a need to reshape large transport hubs to make them more attractive, efficient, connected, and relevant to the future, both for operators and end users.
People are looking for experiences.
As many things that humans do can be done on the internet, the things they do offline need to be much more about extracting more value for their time.
Retailing is having to adapt at a greater rate now than at arguably any time in history. It is doing that increasingly by giving people enjoyment and engagement in return for their time.
Augmented and virtual reality are changing the way that people interact with businesses and with their products.
Digitisation underpins the future for transport hubs in all aspects of the way they operate. From proximity marketing to asset management, to staff training and development, it offers a way to create a laser focus on giving customers exactly what they want, when they want it.
Imagine a traveller considering optimising his or her journey from the comfort of their own home.
For journeys outdoors they can use apps like Google Street View to plan their route and visualise landmarks, to familiarise themselves with the local area.
Indoors, where GPS does not work, digital maps can be created with the same functionality and usefulness as Street View. Applications can be just as accessible, too, and made available to travellers for journey and meeting planning.
Travellers can visualise their route through large railway stations, and airports, and identify the locations of their favourite coffee shop or restaurant.
Disabled travellers can find out where the lifts are and even be shown if assets are labelled out of order, so they do not waste time and can have a more customer-friendly journey.
Stations and indoor transport interchanges can use beacons and WiFi to give people the option of using mixed reality navigation apps to find their way around.
These will become powerful tools for access to the latest travel information as well as for the receipt of marketing data, including retail offers for those who have signed up to receive personally relevant notifications.