Metro Futures: the story so far

Since the start of November members of the public have been sharing their ideas for the future of the Tyne and Wear Metro. As part of a massive public consultation into the design of a new generation of Metro carriages, the Metro Futures project – a collaboration between Nexus, who own Metro, and Open Lab – aims to ask people what they like about Metro, and what they would like to change.

Metro users – and potential users – are being invited to share their views on the Metro Futures website, in pop-up labs held throughout November across Tyne and Wear, and on social media, using the hashtag #MetroFutures.

Simon Bowen, who leads the project for Open Lab, said: “We’re taking this conversation across the region with a series of pop-up labs where we’re asking people to share what is important about Metro today and explore the Metro of tomorrow.”

Pop-up labs:

  • Customs House, South Shields – Wednesday 9 November, 12:00-17:00
  • Gateshead Interchange – Friday 11 November, 14:30-18:30
  • The Bridges Shopping Centre, Sunderland – Friday 18 November, 11:00-15:00
  • Tynemouth Market – Sunday 20 November, 9:00-16:00
  • Newcastle Airport – Thursday 24 November (on trains during the day)
  • intu Eldon Square – Saturday 26 November, 11:00-15:00

“We want local people to tell us much as possible about what they want to see from new trains,” explained Huw Lewis, Head of Customer Services at Nexus.

“The pop-up labs put together by Newcastle University’s Open Lab are a fun and informative way for people right across the communities Metro serves to get involved.”

Around 30 members of the public have also been recruited as co-researchers. They will attend four design workshop and think in detail about Metro today and what the Metro of the future could look like. The ideas coming out of these workshops will also be added to the Metro Futures website to prompt further online discussion.

Local schoolchildren will also be involved in the design process. They will spend time on a spare Metrocar to explore new ideas, echoing the role of children in testing out the original Metrocars 40 years ago.

Involving local people in decision that affect them is a key theme within digital civics, and the Metro Futures project aims to bring back the spirit of innovation that characterised the early days of Metro.

The ideas and feedback from the public will be used to design the new-look Metrocars, with a detailed business plan expected to be presented to the Department for Transport before the end of the year.

Huw explained: “The business case we are submitting to Government for new trains at the end of this year is vital for Metro’s future, and we want local people to be at the heart of our plans.”

The current Metro carriages have been in use since Metro opened in 1980, so the new designs will shape the look of Metro for decades to come.

For more information please contact Simon Bowen.

Author: Mark Sleightholm

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