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A Place to Sit

When Most Bus Stops Are a Pole in the Ground

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Lynn Terlaga

by Lynn Terlaga

The state of a city’s bus stops is a good indicator of its commitment to public transit option as a mobility option for all its residents”. James Brasuell

This is not a new conversation. It’s been a hot topic for years. Bus stops take a back seat to other municipal priorities and more pressing items. They are back burnered time and time again. “Most bus stops across America are a pole in the ground,” says Senior Program Associate Kirk Hovenkotter. A representative of TransitCenter —

Some transit agencies and municipalities justify bare-bones bus stops by claiming that stops serve very few riders and don’t qualify for costly amenities. Not sure that matters too much to the elderly, disabled, injured, or exhausted person who is struggling to stand for a while. And it’s usually those from marginalized communities that must deal with the worst bus stops.

I get it, no municipality or transit authority has an unlimited budget, some are hardly scraping by, and constructing bus stops can be costly. According to Recycling Today, matching recycling and trash bins in the downtown area of a midsize city can easily cost more than $500,000 for installation alone. That’s a lot of cash to dole out. And who’s going to pay to clean and maintain them?  What about graffiti removal and the occasional “it got run over, replace it” issue? Did I mention insurance? As we rack up the dollar signs, what was a great idea turns into a not-right-now project.

Bus stops are the “gateways to the system”

To increase ridership, transit agencies are going to have to focus on those bus stops, aside from helping their business, isn’t it the humanitarian thing to do? Bus stops are the “gateways to the system”, let’s all take some pride in this vital part of our communities. Riders should be able to expect bus stops to be accessible, somewhat comfortable, and safe places to wait. “Well-designed bus stops should have accessible boarding areas, unobstructed and connected sidewalks, and safe crosswalks, along with lighting, benches, shelters, and accurate route information.” “The combination of these amenities makes wait times feel shorter and riders feel safer and more comfortable, and ridership has been shown to improve as a direct result.” Municipalities don’t have to wait for all components to be in place and the stars to perfectly align, it’s okay to start with the most basic component, a place to sit.

This is where a public-private partnership is a win-win-win-win partnership. The municipality or transit authority obtains cost-free and maintenance-free infrastructure, the private company grows its business and hires locals, local businesses get low-cost sponsorship messages to compete with big boxes and the community provides better bus stops for those who are sometimes the most disadvantaged among them, without an increase in taxes.

What’s not to like? I’m here when you are ready to explore options.

Lynn Terlaga, Municipal Affairs, Creative Outdoor Advertising
Direct:   775.433.4107
Email:   LynnTerlaga@CreativeOutdoor.com

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