Design themes & principles

Each principle includes one or more questions (criteria) that must be considered and addressed during the planning or design stage of an interchange facility or zone. The questions represent criteria which should be addressed at most interchange zones - other criteria and questions may be appropriate in particular circumstances; some, equally, may not always be relevant.

The four interchange design themes are:


Best practice interchange facilities or zones provide a seamless experience for passengers as they move between public transport services, complete their journey by a feeder mode, or take advantage of the facilities on offer within the interchange zone.

Best practice interchange facilities or zones allow for efficient movement of people and the public transport services they use, as well as being simple to manage and maintain.

Principles in this theme are:


As well as providing for seamless and efficient movement of passengers and public transport vehicles, best practice interchange zones offer accessibility for all potential users and an environment which is safe, secure and comfortable.

Not only are accidents and crime removed, but the fear of these unpleasant experiences is also removed, thereby increasing the usability of the interchange zone.

Principles in this theme are:


Understanding of an interchange zone covers more than information. Adopting principles of legible design and interchange zone management from the outset will result in places that are easy to use, require minimal signage and are well integrated with their surroundings.

Principles in this theme are:


Providing a high quality interchange facility and interchange zone environment will improve all aspects of a user's experience.

A high quality interchange facility and zone design will influence how it is perceived by its users, operators and providers; whether it has characteristics which give it a significant identity; whether its quality of design, configuration and facilities make it feel safe, give it a sense of place or make it a destination in its own right creating social, economic and environmental value and instilling a sense of civic pride in those who use it.

Principles in this theme are:

When and how to use the framework

The framework is intended to:

  • Highlight key considerations during the design and planning stages of a new or improved interchange facilities or zones
  • Provide a set of criteria against which the quality of an existing or planned interchange zone can be scored

The framework can be used to evaluate the quality or design of an interchange facility or zone at varying project stages. For example, at the start of a project to inform design decisions, during scheme development to ensure that problem areas are being appropriately addressed, or at the end to ensure review and lessons learned for future interchange schemes.

When the framework is used to evaluate an existing interchange facility or zone, it can act as the basis of the interchange audit. A simple approach to the evaluation is to use a 'traffic light' scoring system whereby each principle is scored as green, amber or red where:

  • A green light signifies that all criteria under that principle have been considered and addressed
  • An amber light signifies that some have been considered and addressed
  • A red light signifies that few if any have been considered and addressed

Those principles scoring red or amber may require further consideration if the interchange facility or zone is to be considered best practice. Using this approach, the quality of an interchange facility or zone can either be evaluated at a high level considering all users together, or evaluated from the different perspectives of passengers, operators or commercial developers.

To a greater or lesser extent, all 16 principles will be relevant to any interchange. However, the relative significance or importance of each principle will vary depending on local objectives and strategic priorities; regeneration may be the highest priority at one location whilst transport provision may be the key priority somewhere else and a combination of these priorities will often need to be addressed.

These priorities should be agreed jointly with stakeholders at the project outset.The evaluation framework is not intended to limit flexibility and no weightings are applied (although decisions about the transport functionality of an interchange would always be expected to take precedence over matters of aesthetics). However, where there is a competition for space or the form of the design, it may be appropriate to identify those principles which best reflect the objectives of the project and weight them accordingly.


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