The Tyne & Wear Metro is the busiest urban rail system in the UK outside London, carrying around 40 million passengers a year. In 2016 Nexus, the publically-funded organisation that owns and manages Metro embarked on the Metro Futures project to replace the original train fleet, which was reaching the end of its 40 year working life. Metro Futures consisted of three public engagement activities to understand important features and functions for new trains. I led the programme of experience-centred co-design activities within Metro Futures. From November 2016, with Open Lab colleagues, I ran design workshops, drop-in ‘pop-up labs’ in public locations, schools’ activities, and online discussions. I develop these activities to complement the questionnaire and interview -based research commissioned by Nexus in three ways:
- To begin with people’s experiences of using Metro (good as well as bad);
- To generate and explore new ideas for train features rather; and,
- To share the resulting issues and ideas with people across the region for further comment.
I also oversaw the development of an online portal for broader public participation in the project. This included a novel mechanisms for engaging site visitors in design ideas by overlaying them onto my spherical photographs of existing an Metrocar interior.
In November 2017 the UK Government announced it would award £337 million to fund a new Metro train fleet.
Visit the Metro Futures website for further information and access to the public discussion portal.