The key points of an intermodal transport network are the intermodal nodes or stations where the commuter can switch from car to train, train to tramway, tramway to bicycle, etc. The intermodal nodes or hubs usually display at least four characteristics:
A coherent geostrategy
Intermodal nodes are usually located at the intersection of major arteries, often in railway stations, or are stations where, trains, buses, trams and taxis converge and where self-service bicycle schemes are to be found. A global travel strategy, at a city or territory level, should determine their geographic location and installations.
Example: The French city of Strasbourg has created an intermodal strategy starting with the user who lives in the outer suburbs. They adopted the following approach: as commuters come closer to the city center they must be encouraged to use clean modes of transport. The entire network is deployed with this objective in mind: a car-sharing scheme, Auto'trement, or failing that private cars to a rail or tram station which are to be found all around the agglomeration; 4,200 parking places in 9 Park & Ride facilities, near train and tram stations, so motorists can park without difficulty; 3 train/tram passenger interchange stations; 800 bicycle places in 40 secure bicycle parkings, and 13 self-service bicycle stations (Vélhop), situated near tram and bus stops; and lastly a pedestrian-only city center. The result is that Strasbourg is the only city in France, along with Paris and the Grenoble agglomeration, where the car’s share is under 50 %.
Park & ride facilities
The motorist will use public transport more readily if he can park his vehicle nearby. Hence the importance of Ride & Drive facilities: secure car parks often located on city outskirts where the driver can park his vehicle before taking some sort of rapid and frequent bus, rail or tram service.
Example: The city of Amsterdam has built seven Park & Ride facilities around its periphery. They are open seven days a week and 24/24 and for an attractive rate of 8 euro, the motorist can park for 24 hours and gets a return ticket for the city center.
The very latest equipment
The more convivial the intermodal hub is with services and information the more likelihood that commuters and passersby will be tempted to try sustainable transport. It is for this reason that many local authorities and operators are investing in the design and equipment of these nodes as they treat them as living spaces.
Example: in the German city of Fribourg, the "Mobile Station", adjoining the railway station, regroups several services in an ecological decor: a covered circular bicycle garage for 1,000 bikes, bicycle rental and repairs, car-sharing, connections to railway and tramway, information kiosk for public transport, interactive kiosks, high-speed WiFi, café and associations.
The right combinations
According to the strategy and the infrastructure, a local authority or an operator could choose to give priority to all or only some sections of the major arteries, certain associations: train and tramway, rapid bus transit and bikes, trolleybus and subway... The layout and installations of intermodal nodes then become decisive for the fluidity and the development of passenger interchange stations between 2 or 3 selected modes of transport.
Example: The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), operator of public transport for the bay of San Francisco, decided to combine the use of trains and buses with bicycles. The stations have secure storage for bicycles and in some cases repair workshops. The buses have specific supports for bikes and most of the trains take bicycles. After two years in operation, 5 % of the BART commuters have also adopted cycling in their home to work commute.