The Sorriest Bus Stop Championship: Seattle vs. Munhall


For America’s sorry bus stops, it’s time for the World Series, the NBA Finals, and the Super Bowl rolled into one. Your votes have culled our field of 16 terrible transit waiting environments from around the nation down to a final pair.

These two stops, one in Seattle and the other Munhall, Pennsylvania (just outside Pittsburgh), share one very specific thing in common: Both put people waiting for the bus between a high-speed roadway and active railroad tracks. What makes one worse for bus riders than the other?

Take in these sorry bus stops one last time and vote below. The polls are open until Thursday at midnight.


Seattle bus stop

This image has carried Seattle through the competition, beating bus stops in FremontSan Diego, and Chapel Hill. Nominated by Alexander Lew, it is indeed an apt embodiment of the low status assigned to people who walk and ride the bus in America’s transportation hierarchy.

Passengers ride the bus to a small community college across the street from this stop or to one of the industrial jobs in this area that’s not too far from downtown Seattle.

The one consolation for people who wait here, readers inform us, is that trains move through the area at a slow pace.

Responsible agencies: Washington DOT, King County Metro.



This stop just outside Pittsburgh was nominated by Peter Norton, the author of “Fighting Traffic,” a book about the early history of the automotive lobby and how it reshaped U.S. cities. Its path to the championship round went through bus stops in Indianapolis, Omaha, and Englewood, New Jersey.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette asked the Port Authority of Allegheny County, the local transit operator, about this bus stop, and the agency got defensive.

“The break in the guide rail gives customers a place to wait off of the street for buses heading inbound,” agency spokesman Jim Ritchey told the paper. How luxurious.

Don’t leave out the city of Munhall when assigning blame here. The public works department could improve pedestrian access to this location, which sorely lacks basic safety measures. One commenter told us that she was struck by a driver at this bus stop, which she and her husband use to get to medical appointments.

Agencies responsible: Port Authority of Allegheny County, Borough of Munhall Public Works.

Which bus stop is the sorriest?

  • Seattle (57%, 634 Votes)
  • Munhall, PA (43%, 476 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,110


35 thoughts on The Sorriest Bus Stop Championship: Seattle vs. Munhall

  1. 1. How is “The break in the guide rail gives customers a place to wait off of the street for buses heading inbound” being defensive?
    2. Show the streetview instead of a still image and you’ll see an entire neighborhood across the street that uses that (admittedly-pitiful-but-not-as-bad-as-you’re-leading-people-to-believe-it-is bus stop).

  2. Both are rather awful. At least the ground is somewhat level in Seattle. Congrats western PA another championship.

  3. But that’s even worse, though, since it’s serving a full neighborhood, the least they could do is to paint a crosswalk or something.

  4. Not even being snarky, but what does a neighborhood, even a really nice one, being across the street from this stop have to do with it being a terrible stop?

  5. PA by a long shot! Any hot and heavy commuter burden with being behind the bus when it stops is going to swerve over and get into on coming traffic to get around the monstrosity stop in front of him/her.

  6. There should be a separate category for “dystopian environment” just so the Pittsburgh stop could have won something. It may not have been completely horrible from a bus stop standpoint, but the difficulty of getting to it, especially from below, merits some kind of award.

  7. The problem is that nobody in their right mind would attempt to get to that stop as the street below already has bus service that goes to the same place as the stop above. If anything, it would be used by pedestrians to get from 2nd Ave (below) to Duquesne University (across the bridge i.e. the third level).

  8. I hope Port Authority eliminates the Munhall bus stop and when riders ask why, they provide your phone number.

  9. David, if you’re talking about the stop in the article, it’s nowhere near Duquesne. It’s on 8th Avenue / River Road / 837. All the way down by The Waterfront in Homestead/Munhall.

  10. I can’t believe they expect passengers to deal with being buffeted by traffic that close and additionally have to deal with the trains passing behind them. The least they could/should do is put up a shelter for them.

  11. Ha. My fault. Being from Pittsburgh (originally from Munhall, even!) I just consider them both to be the same place. I didn’t realize Munhall and Pittsburgh had BOTH had contenders. We’re a pretty special place, huh?

  12. The part that really scares me here is what appears to be a pretty steep drop right behind the Munhall stop. I can imagine a person unfamiliar with the stop at night perhaps stepping back a little to be further away from traffic, then rolling right down that embankment. At the very least a solid concrete waiting area with a fence in back is needed.

  13. I wanted to be fair, so I investigated the Seattle stop a bit more. I found there is a signalized crosswalk RIGHT THERE, allowing pedestrians to safely and conveniently get from the community college to the bus stop. The paved waiting area is also decently sized, if modest and ugly. And there’s no hill.,-122.3238424,123a,35y,212.05h/data=!3m1!1e3!4m8!1m2!2m1!1scommunity+college+seattle+east+marginal+way!3m4!1s0x0:0xfa0f360c823d88b!8m2!3d47.542845!4d-122.3273349

    Compare that to Munhall, where the waiting area is only 2’x2′ and unpaved, there’s a steep hill behind it down to the tracks, and there are no crosswalks or traffic lights anywhere to be seen. The only mitigating factor is the road you have to cross is somewhat smaller.

    Munhall is the clear winner here.

  14. Metro recognizes our bus stop won’t win any beauty contests. It’s in an industrial area and currently has no ridership, with nearby stops that have almost no ridership, and we are currently looking at whether this stop should be removed.

    For some background: This stop serves four afternoon trips on a single route and currently logs zero riders per day. The sheltered stop across the street, which has a sidewalk, averages 2 riders per weekday. The next stop to the north at East Marginal Way and Fourth Avenue South – a signalized intersection with sidewalks – averages 2 ons/0 offs per weekdays. The bus stop to the south at Corson Avenue South and East Marginal Way – also a signalized intersection with sidewalks – averages 1 on/0 off per weekday. The stops are about 900 feet apart, which is consistent with our guidelines under most conditions.

    Metro has more than 8,000 bus stops and works with city transportation departments and others to invest in shelters and passenger facilities where ridership and demand most warrant them. We have a strong commitment to improving access to transit, and we prioritize resources where improvements would benefit far greater numbers of Metro riders.

    Thanks all for your support of public transit.


    Scott Gutierrez/King County Metro

  15. To be fair, the intersection in the street view above is a good 3-400 yards away. And I can assure you that the Seattle stop is not paved in any way. (Further, a huge puddle develops in the curb lane when it rains, which happens occasionally here, and the huge drayage trucks that traverse this area throw up huge sheets of dirty water constantly). But that Munhall hill is truly a doozy.

  16. The stop shown here is the 6900 block of E Marginal at Corson. This is the incorrect stop. The stop in question is closer to the 6700 block of E Marginal. It is directly in front of the signage for a warehouse called “Seattle Distribution Center”. The stop is across the street from South Seattle Community College. Google Maps has the stop at the wrong location as well.

  17. “it is indeed an apt embodiment of the low status assigned to people who walk and ride the bus in America’s transportation hierarchy.”

    I would argue it is perhaps the opposite. Seattle has one of the best bus systems in the country (in part because it doesn’t have a good rail system, admittedly). We assign a high status to bus riders. I’ve heard that the average/median (not sure which) bus rider in Seattle earns more than the overall average/median citizen of the city. Service is so good that places like this, which probably shouldn’t have a stop and probably wouldn’t have a stop in many places, does.

  18. My vote goes to Munhall. At least the Seattle stop is level, so you won’t fall down the hill and get run over by a train while waiting for the bus.

  19. Now imagine that munhall stop with a mound of hardened snow/ice plowed up over the guard rail in the winter…

  20. The stop outside is clearly on a rural road. There are tens of thousands of such bus stops across America, and thank goodness because otherwise they wouldn’t have transit service; it’s simply unreasonable to think that counties will build the urban infrastructure of sidewalks everywhere on their rural roads. Meanwhile, Seattle’s sorry bus stop is in an urban, industrial area where workers use the stop to get to/from work. There’s no comparison.

  21. The Munhall stop acts as the primary access to the industrial area on the other side of the streets. On the other hand, both stops are less than a quarter of a mile from other stops and could stand to be removed. Some agencies, like Foothill Transit in Los Angeles County, are really aggressive at removing stops that are either too close to each other or are unsafe, without marked crosswalks or traffic signals between each side. In suburban areas, you sometimes get half mile stop spacing because of that.

  22. I think it has to go to Seattle. During the 9 months of winter, that area is just a giant mud puddle. Then you have have hundreds (if not thousands) of semis speeding past spraying more water on you while you stand there wishing you’d had a car, so you can sit in traffic all day. The only consolation is that when you get on the bus, you will fit in with all of the muddy homeless people that are sleeping on all of the seats.

  23. I believe the Seattle stop is the place my sister-in-law was hit by a train while waiting for the bus. There was something sticking out from the train and it whacked her as it lumbered by.

  24. I agree that the number of riders impacted matters a lot. This is why I think a Englewood, NJ is the clear winner, with over 1000 riders per day walking over a guardrail or the highway lanes

  25. Seattle Metro is horrible and continues to worsen. I’ve been riding metro daily for the last 20 years and it has significantly decreased it’s service especially to the poorer parts of the City. We do have a light rail system that is awesome and growing. At least with the light rail it is clean and you can count on it showing up. Metro’s buses are dirty and run late or don’t even show up.

  26. I agree that Metro seems to be getting worse in some ways, but it is still a great bus system overall. Some routes are difficult, but in some cases that has more to do with our geography than anything else.

    The Link “system” (it is a single line – not counting the streetcar in Tacoma) as it currently stands is a total joke as far as mass transit systems are concerned. I’m guessing you have probably been to other cities with real rail systems, ones that are completely grade separated, where you can go almost anywhere in the city by rail quickly. Yes, Link eventually will be a halfway decent system in…twenty-something years is it? Still no express trains though, and relatively slow and low capacity. Better than nothing, but not a top-notch system.

  27. The contest was rigged 🙂

    I live in the general area of the Munhall and I can tell you that as bad as it appears, it’s far from the worst in the area served by Port Authority of Allegheny County and not even terribly unique.

    These stops are a reflection of the generally putrid state of public transportation in the area which is far and away the very worst of any of several cities I’ve lived in. Just a truly awful system in every measurable way.

  28. I’m from Charleston, South Carolina.
    There are plenty of stops that are as bad if not worse than this stop.

    I demand a recount!

  29. I’m from Charleston, SC. There are a number of stops I can think of that are even more dangerous.

    I demand a recount!

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