With interiors designed for social distancing, Andrea Ponti’s driverless Island tram is a vision for the future of public transport. Jenny Southan reports
Designed by Italy’s Andrea Ponti, the Island tram is a futuristic concept vehicle that could one day be used as a form of public transport in Hong Kong, in the post-Covid era.
Inside, the tram features large circular benches whereby people face outwards in a radial pattern, thus facilitating social distancing (hence the “Island” name). Public confidence will be at a low after the pandemic so being on crowded public transport won’t be appealing – this could be the solution.Ponti says: “With the coronavirus pandemic, people are shunning public transport and relying much more on private transport. We wanted to reimagine public transport in the post-Covid era from a prevention perspective. Especially in the densely populated city of Hong Kong, where social distancing is hard to achieve.”
Interiors of the Island tram feature “minimalist design, charcoal black walls, soft circular seating, wooden floors and trims with natural finish all create a neutral and friendly environment,” says Ponti. Adding: “This chromatic diversity, in addition to the dark color palette, frames and accentuates the beauty of the Hong Kong urban landscape.”The lozenge-shaped Island tram features panoramic windows and a long skylight to allow for almost uninterrupted views of the city as the tram drives around, completely controlled by artificial intelligence (AI). Outside, large vertical LEDs enhance visibility in all weather conditions.Ponti says: “The exterior design is inspired by the Hong Kong urban landscape, which features vast surfaces of glass and rounded-corner buildings. Natural light floods the interiors during the day through the curved windows and a domed top, which also provide awe-inspiring views at night.” By removing the need for a human driver in their own cabin at the front of the tram, every inch of space is optimised for passengers. Ponti also says that AI will also make it easier to manage travel times and increase onboard safety. With the problem of pollution also front of mind, the Island tram will be electric, too. There will be a retractable connector for rapid charging at tram stops.
The stations, meanwhile, will be open on both sides, facilitating a “linear, orderly flow of people and a healthier environment”, with payments made by Octopus Card before boarding.