We recently completed the Public Art Framework for Sydney Metro City and Southwest stations. The Framework shapes the vision and curatorial principles for the next 18 stations in the network, demonstrates current international best practice, identifies sites for artworks, and proves up the important role of art in customer experience.
New research on the financial and operational value of stations with high aesthetic value has been objectively measured. A rigorous study recently done in Naples comparing two subway lines—nearly identical in all ways except that one of them had been revitalized with immersive art—found that art and design are powerful tools in attracting passengers. Commuters were willing to walk 9 minutes further to get to the nearest station, pay about 35 cents more per trip, and wait for their train up to 6 minutes longer at the enhanced stations.
The research suggests that artistic station design may have as much if not more impact on patronage than other more expensive investments. By taking the time and money to build beautiful stations, Naples changed the daily experience of individual riders resulting in a positive change in customer behaviour.
Indeed, support of public art in transit around the world, shows that it enhances patronage, forges engagement with staff, and local communities and encourages ownership of a network.