Take a Seat: 5 Brilliant Bus Stop Fixes - CityLab
When cities fail to provide basic amenities like seats at bus stops, community organizations step in with creative DIY fixes.
The world is full of sorry bus stops. The sorriest ones—as Streetsblog has chronicled in their annual contest—are just a sign and a patch of unshaded dirt. And while grassroots organizations have come up with creative ways to reimagine bus stops as exercise hubs, sustainable gardens, and the like, many would stand to benefit from a more modest addition: a better place to sit.
Benches can be hard to come by at bus stops, much less full bus shelters, even as transit advocates have long stressed their benefits, especially for older riders. Better amenities can boost ridership, according to a Transit Center report, and given the worrying state of bus use nationwide, installing better benches should be a low-cost way for cities to address a low-hanging fruit.
So what’s getting in their way? Cities can fund bus seating via advertising, but in some cases, according to Transit Center, the money from bus-stop ads doesn’t get invested into bus-stop amenities. Then there’s the bureaucracy over which agency is in charge of handling street furniture—is it the parks department, the transportation department, or in the case of Los Angeles, the department of public works? Adding benches may also require approval by city council, but not before residents add their input. Sometimes, neighbors and local businesses resist adding sidewalk amenities for bus riders, believing that they lure loiterers.
That’s where guerrilla bus stops come in. Some are the work of community organizations; others the doing of actual masked vigilantes. The efforts can be as minimal as setting out a lawn chair, and as elaborate as artistically wrapping handmade wooden benches around bus stop signs. Here’s a roundup of some of the simplest, and most creative, community solutions.
Benches built right into the bus pole
In Los Angeles, a masked artist has been building wooden benches on the spot in neighborhoods like Boyle Heights, El Sereno, and downtown, according to an interview with the Los Angeles Times. When the newspaper caught up with the artist last November, he had installed more than a dozen. The wooden benches, wide enough to snugly fit three people, are constructed right around the bus stop sign so they can’t be easily moved—though the Times reporter notes that after watching the artist install one of his benches, it disappeared five days later.