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Rendering of a mobility hub showing dense buildings, a train, Paratransit van, bus, bike lanes, and sidewalks.

What are mobility hubs?

Mobility hubs are generally defined as locations where people can access multiple types of transportation modes in a central location (ex. bike share, public transit, micro mobility devices). Often located adjacent to transit stops and stations, mobility hubs serve as a transfer point for multiple transportation modes and offer first and last mile connections between the hub and one’s origin/destination. In addition, mobility hubs capitalize on a concentration of transportation and community assets and serve as a gathering place, thereby connecting people to destinations through various transportation modes while also fostering inter-community connections via programs and civic activities.

Mobility hubs, as a general concept, should address the following four elements:

Encourage environmentally and financially sustainable access and mobility
Prioritize people through design
Ease of transfer between modes
Flexible and scaled to the surrounding environment

How does the RTA support mobility hubs?

Plainfield Park N Ride

Advocacy Item 4 in the RTA’s five-year strategic plan, Transit is the Answer, specifies supporting communities’ efforts to improve the area around their transit stations/stops. Microtransit—the shared programs like bikeshare, scootershare, and ride-hailing transportation that supplement traditional fixed-route service—is one way to help fill first and last mile gaps in low-density areas. Microtransit presents an opportunity to connect housing and workplaces to existing fixed-route transit, and should be explored by communities to extend access to opportunities for people without cars. Creating plans to construct mobility hubs will make it safer and easier for people to walk and bike to transit stations and stops and to better align with existing economic and workforce development efforts.  

Through its Community Planning program, the RTA offers planning assistance to help municipalities envision, develop, and implement mobility hubs near their transit services. Technical assistance is available to engage the community about their vision for the hub, identify one or more sites, develop basic site design and layout, and create an implementation strategy the municipality or community organization can use to build and operate the hub. In addition, through its Access to Transit program, the RTA offers funding and technical assistance to leverage federal funding that can be used to design, engineer, and construct elements of a mobility hub.

For more information, visit our Connections Blog to read a recap or watch a recording of our 2023 Transportation Tuesday webinar on mobility hubs.

Implementing a mobility hub

To ensure you’re rolling out a coordinated mobility hub strategy for your community, consider first developing a comprehensive municipal-wide strategy utilizing the following considerations:

  • Equitable access: Prioritize, with an equity lens, mobility hub planning and implementation to ensure the hub benefits those most in need of access.
    • This could include identification of desired transportation modes, common destinations, and travel patterns, as well as community demographic analysis.
  • Planning: Develop typologies for each setting, ensuring there are hubs designed for both major stations and smaller bus stops.
  • Location: Identify feasible locations for potential mobility hubs.
  • Engagement: Build community support and buy in.
  • Funding and coordination: Connect with regional partners, such as transit operators, Metropolitan Planning Organizations, and county Departments of Transportation to obtain and apply a diverse array of funding sources.
  • Other best practices: Utilize best practices identified in pilot programs to roll out a mobility hub strategy.

Once your mobility hub strategy is determined, you can begin building individual hubs, in the order of priority, utilizing the following steps:

  1. 1. Advance pilot projects in various settings to find successful solutions.
  2. 2. Convene necessary partners and agencies with an interest in the location, especially transit agencies and the agency with roadway jurisdiction.
  3. 3. Conduct a site selection process.
  4. 4. Design conceptual site plans implementing the developed typologies.
  5. 5. Obtain feedback from the community, adjacent landowners, and partnering agencies.
  6. 6. Develop a strategy for activating any public gathering space that includes ongoing operations and maintenance.
  7. 7. Preliminary engineering for environmental considerations.
  8. 8. Design engineering and construction.

Local examples

There are few examples of mobility hubs in the Chicago region, leaving a major opportunity for communities in the region to stand out with a well-designed mobility hub. Some existing examples include the Cary Depot Plaza and Equiticity Go Hubs.

Cary Depot Plaza Rendering 1

Cary Depot Plaza

The Cary Metra station has predominantly served commuters from the Village of Cary to downtown Chicago, while also providing transfers to the McHenry County MCRide dial-a-ride service. Located in downtown Cary, the Metra station has historically provided seating and shelter to protect waiting passengers from weather elements. The Village of Cary recently completed a new downtown strategic plan, in partnership with the RTA, that creates a vision for improved mobility and additional transit-supportive economic development. As a result of the plan and with funding through the RTA, Village staff is redeveloping the Metra station area as Depot Plaza, a comfortable, safe, and clearly connected mobility hub featuring open-air shelter for bicyclists and pedestrians waiting for the MCRide dial-a-ride service, ride sharing, taxis, and outbound Metra service. The Plaza will also provide protected bike parking to encourage public and active travel modes to downtown shops and restaurants and modifications to the sidewalk to increase walkability and improve pedestrian safety. Finally, a natural gas fireplace, built-in planters, and benches will encourage public gathering and extend the downtown shopping season.

Image: Village of Cary

The Go Hub Top View

Equiticity Go Hubs

Equiticity, an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3), is planning to develop two mobility hubs in Chicago centered on the CTA L system, one located in close proximity to the Pulaski Pink Line L station and the other, in partnership with the RTA, near the 51st Street Green Line L station. These hubs, named “Go Hubs,” center the transportation needs and identity of the surrounding community in disinvested neighborhoods. The Go Hub will provide an important last mile connection for the community using a fleet of e-bikes, e-scooters, and shared electric vehicles that will prioritize public, active, and shared travel modes, especially at the micro mobility level. Additionally, The Go Hub will offer transportation information, educational events and travel incentives to residents and The Go Hub’s members. In addition, the area in and around The Go Hub provides a safe, comfortable space for travelers.

Image: Equiticity

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