All great train stations have 7 things in common - Mobility Lab

Growing up in the New Haven area, nothing was more exciting than a train ride to New York City on commuter rail. And arriving at beautiful Grand Central Terminal was the cherry on top.

But if Grand Central looked like Penn Station (so, in other words, ugly), would 10-year-old me have been just as stoked about the trip? Did Grand Central’s majesty imbue trips to New York with excitement, or did the excitement about those trips make Grand Central special?

Both, according to a presentation at this year’s Transportation Research Board meeting. And station architects should plan for that.

“We’re asking stations to help travelers and also be economic catalysts,” said Trent Lethco, a transportation principal at urban design firm ARUP. “But we’ve forgotten how to build great stations.”

Transportation terminals wear a lot of hats, according to Lethco. Obviously, they get people from A to B. But they also serve as landmarks, becoming tourist destinations in their own right (like Grand Central). And a great station can make a great first impression on a visitor.

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