In the end, it was never even close. This bus stop on Lindbergh Boulevard in suburban St. Louis won wire-to-wire in the voting for the Sorriest Bus Stop in America.
There was plenty of worthy competition, but something stood out about this stick in the ground next to what seems to be a divided highway. The only thing marking the stop is a single, lonely signpost -- no sidewalk, no bench, and not much in the way of destinations.
The stop is actually an important connection point, as a spokesperson from St. Louis Metro Transit explained in the comments (we confirmed that it was in fact Metro):
The stop is on Lindbergh, a major north-south artery. The speed limit is 40 MPH in that section (it is not a freeway.) The overpass you see in the photo is Page Avenue, a major east-west artery. Vehicles use exit ramps to make the connection between the two streets, but there is no safe way for pedestrians to cross between Page and Lindbergh. So, the Page bus leaves Page Avenue, drops people off at that bus stop who need to transfer to the Lindbergh bus, and then returns to Page. It looks odd, but serves an important purpose.
Metro spokesperson Patti Beck added: "We do need to help our customers get to where they need to go and there is no pedestrian infrastructure along those two major roads." She said the agency tries to work with municipalities in its service area to ensure there is proper pedestrian infrastructure when possible.
Indeed, the lion's share of the blame doesn't lie with Metro, but with the public officials and agencies who have created such a far-flung, high-speed street network. Transit, walking, and amenities for bus passengers are afterthoughts.
The runner-up in the competition, with 221 votes, was this horror in Cleveland -- which, by the way, actually is on a limited access highway. (The bus stop is marked only by a very tiny circle under the Interstate 71 sign.) This bus stop serves Cleveland Hopkins International Airport:
One commenter who identified as a long-time transit planner explained how these types of debacles happen:
Sometimes you find yourself in a situation where there is no good location for a bus stop. You then have to decide whether no stop is better than a bad stop. Local residents often advocate for the latter, as without a stop they're stuck. Many jurisdictions don't want to spend the money needed for even minimal physical improvements, figuring that's "the bus system's problem." Transit systems, on the other hand, don't want to set a precedent for making street improvements all over town. It's a difficult situation, made worse by the reluctance of both governments and local residents to compromise auto speed for pedestrian safety.
All of our contenders bore witness to a transportation system where no expense is spared to save highway commuters a few moments, but basic amenities for transit are seen as optional. Thanks to everyone who participated.
Correction 2/17/15 8:29 a.m.: The caption originally reported the offending bus stop was in the suburb of Lindbergh. It is on Lindbergh Boulevard in Maryland Heights.
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