This Tiny Roadside Refuge in Silver Spring Is Your Sorriest Bus Stop, America


The people have spoken, and the winner of Streetsblog’s 2016 Sorriest Bus Stop in America tournament is this beauty on Colesville Road in Silver Spring, Maryland.

In terms of pure danger, it’s hard to top this tiny refuge next to a state highway with no crossing to protect pedestrians from speeding traffic.

The last match in the 16-entry tourney was a bit of a blowout, with Silver Spring racking up more than 850 votes compared to about 200 votes for the other finalist, an unmarked, shelterless bus stop serving Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.

Thanks to reader Dan Reed for submitting the winner. (Your Streetsblog t-shirt is in the mail.)

The Silver Spring entry also came away with the most impressive local coverage in the competition. The Washington Post got all three agencies responsible for this bus stop and the streets around it — WMATA, Montgomery County DOT, and the Maryland State Highway Association — on the record. All three pointed fingers at each other, unfortunately, which nicely encapsulates a key obstacle to better bus stops.

Testimonials from people who live in the area have been pouring in. They tell this bus stop makes them fear for their lives. Here’s one comment that came in during the final round:

I live on the street directly across from the Silver Spring bus stop. it is the scariest, craziest thing to try and get to this bus stop. We live in a neighborhood and area that heavily utilizes the buses. I will NOT use this bus stop, and I won’t let my kids do it either. If we could get a street light, or my dream, a pedestrian bridge, it would see TONS of use. I believe Colesville road is slated to become a new “rapid” transit corridor for buses. How the hell are they going to do that if we have to dance with death just to use this bus stop? Admittedly, there is another stop about 3/4 of a mile away. But that one is in a very, very busy intersection itself- it is doable, because there is a crosswalk, but it’s such a busy intersection that you still have to be very careful.

The good news: This bus stop might get safer soon.

Montgomery County spokesperson Esther Bowring said the county has spent $11 million improving crossings and bus stops at 3,000 locations, out of 3,400 that need improvement. At this location, she said, sidewalks were recently constructed on the other side of the road (to the left of the frame). The county has asked the Maryland State Highway Administration to look into adding a signalized crossing for pedestrians.

The county is also looking to improve walking connections from this residential community to other bus stops in the area, Bowring said.

Thanks to everyone who took part in the 2016 Sorriest Bus Stop competition by submitting entries or voting. Keep on tracking the sorry bus stops you come across — we’ll be taking entries next year in the quest to win safer walking conditions and dignified waiting environments for bus riders.

For now, here’s one last look at all the competitors this year and how the tournament shook out:


12 thoughts on This Tiny Roadside Refuge in Silver Spring Is Your Sorriest Bus Stop, America

  1. As I’ve said previously, what really puts this one over the top for me is the amount of planning and effort that very clearly had to go into this bus stop. It’s sad that so many “bus stops” are just mindlessly plopping a bus stop sign in a random place (or as we saw, sometimes not even bothering with the sign) but with the Silver Spring stop it’s really amazing that it cleared, presumably, multiple layers of review. And this in a DC suburb that wouldn’t be anywhere near what it is without its Metro stop.

  2. Agreed. It also neatly demonstrates the absurdity of multiple jurisdictions with no clear lines of responsibility. The fact that one agency went in and carved out this little stop without any coordination regarding sidewalks/crosswalks/etc. is ridiculous.

  3. I’m so happy I could cry! Congratulations Silver Springs. Job well done. After doing your victory lap I’m hoping you could come back next year and defend your title. I”m thinking you could improve your site in the meantime. I would suggest getting rid of the sign and maybe putting a pot with a fake plant in it. Give the impression you thought about “beautifying” the site. For extra effect I would put the potted fake plant on the right (opposite of the sign), so that any careening cars from the highway can shatter that before running into anyone waiting there.

  4. No doubt this is an awful bus stop for the inbound customers who have to cross 6 lanes of Colesville Rd, a very busy highway.

    That said, the one comment that’s quoted in length is not correct. The nearest stop is not 3/4 mile away but is only 0.2 mile inbound, at the corner of Colesville Rd & Southwood Ave, where there is a traffic light, a crosswalk and sidewalks on both sides of Colesville. There’s also a sidewalk on the east side of Colesville between Crestwood and Southwood between the two stops.

    But, yes, this is one awful bus stop, and I wouldn’t let my children cross Colesville Rd without a traffic light, either. It would tempt death.

  5. Wish I’d known about the competition, I would’ve taken photos of at least 6 of the stops for Newport (Oregon) “loop bus”–places where there are no signs. You just have to know where the stop is because the listed stop on the schedule may or may not provide an adequate description or address. The majority of stops have no signs or any other indication there’s a bus stop. Several of the stops are located on highway 101, which is very busy in the summer, 2 lane w/a turning lane. Stops are not located near crosswalks, street lights, but in the winter they do have “great” exposure to the strong winds & rain of winter on the OR coast. No sidewalks to the stops along the highway–similar to the Silver Springs stop.

  6. Conditions like the ones in the photo reinforce the outdated stereotype that public transit is for people who have NO OTHER CHOICE for getting around, ie the poor and disenfranchised. Sadly, the winning photo is the de facto norm in the suburban towns around Burlington, VT. Reliable transit to jobs in Burlington exists but investing in infrastructure to enable its easy use (sidewalks, shelters) is still not a priority. In Vermont, “being green” still mostly means driving an EV to get around. The culture of using cars to get around and defining our development patterns needs to change.

  7. That is probably the most absurd aspect of this. Instead of spending the money on putting shelters on the stops 1000 feet away, they actually created a little concrete pad all so people didn’t have to walk another four minutes.

  8. The bus stop was enlarged, but no cross walk, no light, and no message to drivers that people will be crossing on a blind curve. It’s absurdly dangerous. I risked my life to get across Colesville today, and stood there in unrelenting sun at this awful bus stop as thick traffic whizzed by at plus-40 miles an hour. Just the decibel level is deafening. I stood for 20 minutes in hot sun waiting for the bus that never came. If the County cares about reducing emissions and encouraging ridership, which I would like to do, they will have to do better than this. There are tons of people living in the surrounding neighborhoods for whom public transpo could be a boon. But I don’t blame people for not wanting to take such risk in crossing the insanity that is Colesville Road to stand at the Sorriest Bus Stop in the country. BTW, in all the time I’ve lived here, I have never seen anyone else standing there.

  9. They decided to “fix” it. By that I mean they made this weird monstrosity. There’s no sidewalk on the bus stop’s side, so they made a sort of crosswalk (without any markings or notice of stopping for pedestrians — but I suppose that may come eventually — and no light). Then a REEAAAALLY long… walled in… thing. I suppose that’s one way to handle it.
    Not a very smart way, but certainly creative. It was very difficult to get a clear shot of it because traffic is so bad.

  10. The difference is that stop is not on a 6 lane road in an area with some of the worst traffic in the country. There are plenty of horrible bus stops, but the problems with this are compounded by its geographical location more than the lack of side walk or possible cross walk.

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