America’s Sorriest Bus Stop: Silver Spring vs. New Castle

From the pathetic to the desolate, our parade of sorry bus stops continues today with the fourth match of the first round in this 16-bus-stop tournament.

Two Mid-Atlantic competitors, each bad in its own special way, face off today.

Silver Spring, Maryland

awful bus stop

This bus stop comes to us from Dan Reed, who writes:

This one is on a busy state highway in Silver Spring, Maryland, immediately north of Washington, DC.

Metrobus (which serves this stop) should get props for having great service – buses come every few minutes during rush hour, and service runs 22 hours a day, 7 days a week. That is, if you can actually get to this bus stop, and we’ve got the Maryland State Highway Administration to blame for it. There are no sidewalks leading to it. It’s at an intersection, but there’s no crosswalk and no stoplight. And, of course, there’s a steep hill next to it. I’ve lived here my entire life and I’ve only ever seen one person waiting for the bus here. I’m pretty sure they were dropped from a plane or something.

Agency in charge: Maryland State Highway Administration.

New Castle, Delaware

original-1

Paul Moser sent us this beauty on US-40, “one of the deadliest roads in the state,” served by multiple DART routes in greater Wilmington. From the looks of it, it’s an eight-lane divided highway with no sidewalks. Appalling conditions to expect people to walk to or from.

Agencies in charge: Delaware DOT, DART.

The polls are open until Wednesday at midnight.

Which bus stop is the sorriest?

  • Silver Spring (57%, 214 Votes)
  • New Castle (43%, 162 Votes)

Total Voters: 376

Here’s the map of all the contestants so far.

  • David Meyer

    Shoutout to Dan Reed and America’s greatest inner suburb!!

  • Vinstar

    Are there any people who actually use those stops? Sad.

  • John

    The bus stop in New Castle might turn into something good in the future, but the stop in Silver Spring is beyond redemption.

  • This one seems too close to call, but a serious question I have, why do these bus stops exist? Do people use them? Are they useful in transferring between routes or something? Because the idea that they’re useful transportation is laughable. I’m guessing they exist to satisfy some “x meters away from bus stop” requirement. This type of thing should be disqualified from such a metric obviously.

  • Elizabeth F

    Well put. Especially galling in Silver Spring is they clearly went to effort to carve a bus stop out of the hillside, build a retaining wall, etc — but somehow forgot to figure out how people would get to ti.

  • It is interesting to me to see U.S. 40 called “one of the deadliest roads in the state”. Maybe that’s how it is in New Castle; but just last week I rode it for about 55 miles from Bear, Delaware all the way to Baltimore as part of my bike ride from New York to Washington. And, while this road is far from scenic, it does have a bike lane (or at least a wide shoulder useable as a bike lane) for its entire length between those two locations.

    But, as I said, I didn’t ride on U.S. 40 in New Castle, where it is duplexed with U.S. 13. In that town I took DE 9 south to DE 273, then went west to DE 7 (passing U.S. 13/40, and coming close to the site of the pictured bus stop), then south on DE 7 to where that road meets U.S. 40 after it has separated from U.S. 13.

    My complaints with U.S. 40 were the constant up-and-down hills that kicked in later, at about Elkton, Maryland (after the road had deceitfully lulled me into thinking that it would be flat), and also the lack of lights. What is the deal on that?! My ride was during the day, so I didn’t have to worry about lights. But how do people deal with this at night? Seems barbaric to me.

  • Jason

    The New Castle one at least looks like it may have once upon a time had a sensible way to access it and/or that it’s there in anticipation of development. It’s impossible to imagine any past or future scenario, on the other hand, in which the Silver Spring one makes sense.

  • Joe R.

    I had to deal with lack of streetlights when I used to ride in the area around Princeton. Once you were much out of town, it was pitch black at night. Even worse, this was in the early 1980s, long before we had either LEDs or decent rechargeable batteries. The headlights which existed were dim, sucked batteries dry in no time, and had expensive bulbs which were easily damaged by any kind of shock. For those reasons, I rode without lights, not that having them would make all that much difference. Once your eyes adjust, it’s not horrible. There’s usually enough starlight to at least tell where the shoulder ends. If there’s a full moon it’s almost decent. To us city folk the first time we experience “country dark” you wonder how the heck anyone can function. It turns out the human eye works over a very wide range of light intensities. The only time I had problems was when the sky was mostly blocked out by trees. Given that I did most of my riding there when school was in session, this problem mostly didn’t exist except maybe in September and again in April.

  • AMH

    Clearly you’re supposed to drive there.

  • Michel S

    Jarrett Walker of “Human Transit” fame does a good job explaining this phenomenon as the result of the paradigmatic struggle between coverage vs. ridership. It’s a give and take between spreading coverage out over a wide area, which makes funding transit politically palatable but can hinder service quality, or focusing on providing a quality service that many people will likely use but that risks denying service to areas where access to potential riders, destinations and the human quality of the nearby environment make good transit impossible. In these cases, coverage won out over ridership, so you end up with token stops in inhospitable places that cannot attract the users that make transit attractive or viable in the long run.

  • jmarcusse

    I used to ride that Silver Spring bus. The companion stop across the street is actually useful for a neighborhood. But the stop in question is practically suicidal to use, and was a waste of resources to build.

  • calwatch

    The Silver Spring stop is “on the way” but serving a totally single family residential area. As discussed in the writeup, it’s not a coverage route, it’s a frequent route that happens to go through lower density areas. There are three stops within a half which serve this neighborhood – Lorain, Eastwood, and Crestmore.

    The agency should identify one of the stops to upgrade (probably the middle one, Eastwood) and put a shelter there (there already is a signalized intersection). Then the other two stops should be removed. Having stops like that on a high speed road only reduces transit speeds because either drivers have to drive carefully to not miss anyone, or they pass people up and cause them to be dissatisfied.

  • I know the coverage vs. ridership argument, but this stop accomplishes neither, because it isn’t “real” coverage, nobody can get to it safely. My point is, this might be driven by coverage, but its driven by a metric, not reality. Even if you decide your goal is coverage, doing this is just a lie, this should never be allowed to be included in coverage data.

  • calwatch

    The New Castle one is more offensive since you have what looks like an expressway but with businesses having driveways directly off it. You need the stops to serve the businesses and the people that work there, otherwise they are walking over a mile from the signals, but they could at least have sidewalks instead of walking in the shoulder.

  • Dan Reed

    I’ve seen somebody use the bus stop in Silver Spring just once – I don’t know how they got there. Maybe they rolled down the hill.

  • TryToThinkFirst

    The one in Silver Spring is treacherous, I live a mile north and wonder about it every time I go by. People often go 60 MPH plus and it’s inaccessible. The one in Delaware is bad, but once construction is complete the silt fence will be gone, so it will be fine. Silver Spring will always be bad. Not even sure why it’s there.

  • Yehuda

    The Silver Spring Master Plan calls for building a sidewalk on that side eventually…. between the previous bus stop at the bottom of the hill and the next bus stop at the top of the hill. Before there was a sidewalk on either side of US 29, I used to walk down the middle of the median in that area and when the traffic light on each side of that block is red, it is pretty easy to cross.

  • jwcbklyn

    Montgomery County did a major sweep of bus stop access improvements over the past ~10 years, but on State highways like 29, the SHA overlords will ensure that the ‘improvements’ don’t actually do anything to slow down cars

  • Mark

    I’ve used that Silver Spring stop many times and it is treacherous. Before that wall was there you had to stand on the hill. It’s across from my neighborhood and yes people use it. It needs a crosswalk and sidewalk.

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