Gravesend bus hub – from backstreet to frontrunner

Reliable and attractive public transport is crucial for the future. If we are to get people out of their cars and onto buses and trains, a comprehensive, efficient and comfortable transport network is essential. Because a passenger’s perception of public transport often starts at the boarding point, a high-quality and accessible waiting area is vital for creating a positive experience.

A well-appointed waiting environment is bright and feels safe. It is also fully accessible and offers comfort and shelter from the weather. Pleasant surroundings will encourage travellers to leave the car at home more often, making our cities more future proof.

Gravesend in Kent (UK) lies to the east of London and is a major public transport junction. The town’s bus hub was recently overhauled and completely revamped. Located on the Thames, Gravesend has always been a strategic location with good connectivity. Catch the high-speed train and you will arrive at St Pancras International station in central London within a mere 24 minutes, and neighbouring Dartford offers good connections to mainland Europe. Arriva operates mainly local scheduled buses, and its Fastrack rapid transit system provides fast and frequent services from Gravesend to surrounding towns.

Garrick Street is in the city centre, within walking distance of the railway station. Until recently, it was a backstreet with three different bus stops. This transport hub was redesigned and furnished by local architectural firm Kaner Olette and the Waterman Group with the aim of improving connections between train, bus and bicycle.

To provide shelter and a comfortable space for people while waiting for the bus, the design features a large transparent canopy, public toilets and ample seating. The new layout gives passengers more space, making sheltering under the outdated canopies that were too small anyhow a thing of the past. The use of paving in light colours and the addition of lots of greenery to the streetscape serve to neutralise the bleak brick and concrete surroundings. Playful configurations of furniture also help to make the space less austere.

In addition to Fastrack’s dark-blue company colour, the design uses a lot of wood as a base feature – a durable and warm material. All the furniture is coordinated for an integrated look. In addition to incorporating several standard elements in the design, Streetlife modified its Green Circular Benches especially for the bus hub so that they fit around the support columns of the new canopy.

For the improvements on Garrick Street, Kent County Council Public Transport Department required a first-rate
design to enhance Fastrack’s high-quality bus service. All parties committed to this, and the result is impressive!

Today, a few months after completion, passengers say they are very satisfied with the new bus hub. They
experience the waiting area as pleasant and feel safer in the dark.

The complete refurbishment of Gravesend bus hub (cost: £2.5 million) commenced in June 2021. The project was
completed by summer 2022.