Dependable Erection

Monday, July 16, 2007

More bus stuff

Kevin over at Bull City Rising is taking the bus this week, and his first post about his adventures is drawing a lot of commentary.

I've already weighed in with my thoughts on the bus here and here

I've been having a discussion with Michael about what is a reasonable level of service froma municipal transit system, as far as bus stops with shelters goes.

It's proving to be a hard topic to research online.

Here's an article that ran in the San Antonio Business Journal last year, for example:
A survey of San Antonio public transit riders shows that 84 percent of respondents said they have ridden the bus more since VIA Metropolitan Transit had bus shelters installed at local stops.

That's at least according to Cemusa, the company VIA selected to manufacture and install outdoor transit furniture at its local bus stops. The ridership figure is up 10 percentage points since Cemusa first installed the local bus shelters in 2003, the company reports.

Cemusa commissioned the customer satisfaction survey to determine whether local bus patrons are happy with the bus shelters.

Not only do the shelters provide cover from the sweltering San Antonio heat during the summer months, but they also provide a place to sit while waiting for the bus. Companies like Cemusa pay for the installation of the shelters, while the companies make money off the sale of outdoor advertising space.

The article doesn't say what percentage of bus stops have shelters, however.

An audit of the South Yorkshire bus system in England mentions:
The South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Authority is responsible for:

* five public transport interchanges situated at Meadowhall, Sheffield, Doncaster, Barnsley and Rotherham;
* 7,700 bus stops and 3,100 bus shelters; and
* four park and ride sites.

But we don't know, for example, if bus stops include bus shelters (ie, is the total number of facilities 7,700, or 10,800?), and the level of service that a bus shelter provides that a bus stop doesn't. But at minimum about 30%, and maybe as much as 40% of the bus stops are provided with shelters.

In Seattle, about 15 - 20% of the city's 9400 bus stops have shelters, and 75% of the ridership is served, or so they claim. Durham only has about 1500 bus stops total, and only about 10% of those have shelters or benches. Tripling the number of bus stops with shelters to 400 - 500, would probably put 80% or more of DATA's ridership under a roof while waiting for the bus, which in turn might very well lead to an increase in the number of people like me willing to ride the bus.

Good for Kevin for taking on this project. If the state of public transportation in Durham becomes an issue in this fall's election, we'll know who to thank.



  • Since I imagine one of the early questions DATA and the city would bring up would be money: What about an adoption program? It could be like NC's Adopt-A-Highway program, but for Durham bus stops. Interested local parties build a shelter, or donate money to someone else to do so. Perhaps one could even fancify shelters to the local neighborhood's satisfaction. I can see a group of say 10 or so motivated people, with one or two having some building experience, putting up shelters.
    While I doubt the city would be hostile to such an effort, I bet it would take a long time for any sort of official approval to work its way through the system (e.g. the Duke Park bathhouse). For expediency's sake, I'd shoot for minimal city involvement. But there are (I imagine) a bunch of ways this could be done.

    By Blogger Joe, at 6:10 PM  

  • i mentioned in one of my comments over at Kevin's place that the most common way of constructing new bus shelters is to allow a private party to build them and sell the ad space on them. the standard ratio for the ad revenues is 25% city/75% third party. there does not seem to be a shortage of takers for this kind of program.

    that of course raises the issue of whether we want that volume of ads in our neighborhoods, do we want to place restrictions on what kinds of products/services can be advertised, etc.

    however, given the degree of advertising on some of Durham's city buses, that's probably a moot point.

    By Blogger Barry Ragin, at 6:53 PM  

  • I thought of the advertising angle; given the amount of advertising I see every day, I'd almost pay not to see ads. Maybe it's possible to do without ads, but probably not. They'd likely be covered in graffiti pretty soon anyway, so maybe it doesn't matter.

    By Blogger Joe, at 9:35 PM  

  • I wonder if this is a case of being careful what you wish for. Whether it's ads or graffiti, bus shelters could wind up covered in something that will turn them into eyesores and make us want to tear them down.

    At least with the ads on buses, the bus speeds by at 45-50 MPH (on 25 MPH Green St.) and then it's gone. I don't want to walk by ads everyday.

    By Blogger toastie, at 12:00 PM  

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