Sorry Bus Stops, Round 1 Matchup: Nashville vs. Houston

Our annual contest begins with a southern clash.

Nashville vs houston

Here’s at least one way to measure that bus infrastructure in this country is getting worse: Streetsblog USA’s annual “Sorry Bus Stop” competition attracted more than 50 entries this year — far more than in prior years.

Most entries (even the ones that weren’t bad enough to make our final round) were truly awful: bus stops along highways that offer no shade or protection, bus stops filled with weeds or trash, bus stops nestled right up against railroad tracks and busy roads.

We’ve narrowed down the four-dozen-plus entries to what we’ll call the “Sour 16” — the most uncomfortable, dangerous and depressing bus stops in the land. Over the next few days — call it “August Absurdity” — we’ll roll out our NCAA-style brackets.

Today, we’re pairing two fast-growing sunbelt towns with a lot of room for transit improvement. In this corner, boasting a recently failed transit referendum, it’s Nashville. And in the red corner, offering a car-centric culture so strong that it has a 23-lane highway, it’s Houston. Let’s get ready to fumble:

Nashville

Murfreesboro and Bowwood
This sad, sad bus stop is located at Murfreesboro Pike and Bowwood Court in the Music City.
The entry came from Jessica Burton, who said:
This bus stop is located on a four lane road, with no marked crossings in sight. The speed limit is typically 45 mph on this road; however, right now they are doing construction on this portion of the road, so one lane is closed. There have been six pedestrian crashes here in the last six years. There is also a street barrier and a ditch behind the bus stop, leaving nowhere for being to sit or be covered from the weather elements.
This line is serviced by Nashville’s MTA, which hoped to make bus stops more walkable as part of the $5-billion transit levy that voters rejected earlier this year. So no relief is forthcoming for the poor guy in the photo. The Tennessee Department of Transportation is to blame for the dangerous conditions on the road.

Houston

Houston bus stop

This entry comes to us from Allyn West. It’s located at West Park Drive, just to the east of the giant interchange known as the West Loop.

West writes:

Why is it sorry? Well, context matters. It’s a typical Houston stop – it’s a pole in the ground. (Something like 80 percent of our stops are poles in the ground.) Nothing else makes you feel more like a first-class citizen. The wheelchair ramp is a nice touch, but of course there’s no sidewalk on that side of Westpark Drive, so anyone in a wheelchair would have to push for more than a tenth of mile from the nearest intersection in a narrow “bike lane” that’s littered with debris and not protected at all from four lanes of high-speed traffic. Speaking of which: The stop is in the middle of a 0.3-mile block, requiring a long walk to the nearest intersection to cross the street. (Remember that there’s no sidewalk, and the striping on the crosswalks is fading and peeling, if it’s there at all.) So, most people who get on or off here end up scampering across all that traffic.

Finally: This stop is on a low-frequency route – the buses come every 30 minutes – so, if you mistime it, you’re stuck in the humidity with no shade for 29 minutes, which might as well be forever.

The stop is served by Houston Metro. But West park Drive appears to be a local road, even though it is designed like a highway — so that falls on the City of Houston.

One cute thing about this stop is that appears to be ADA accessible but — yikes! — how would you access it in the first place with a wheelchair?

bus_stop_bracket_2018

It’s up to you guys to tell us which of these sorry, sorry bus stops is the worst.

Time to vote: Which bus stop is sorriest?

  • There should be a category for the sorriest photo; the Houston one got my vote for its beautiful composition, a monument to civic banality

  • Alex P

    30 Minute headways = Low Frequency?
    This is amusing. In St. Louis, Metro pats themselves on the back for that kind of frequency. A lot of routes here run once an hour.

  • Jason

    The Houston one is the easy winner here, IMO. It reminds me of the Silver Spring one from a couple of years ago (this text is a link, in case it’s not clearly formatting as such on your screen). As I said about that one, it’s one thing to mindlessly go around sticking up bus stop signs, but it’s quite another thing for money and effort to be put into designing the stop without anyone stopping and asking what the hell they were doing.

  • JamesL

    I think another factor is how many people are using the stop, i.e., is it there just on the off chance someone needs it one day or are dozens of people being subjected to uncomfortable/dangerous/demeaning conditions on a daily basis. The Houston entry has 4 boardings and 20 alightings on an average weekday. Do we have data for the usage of the Nashville stop?

  • TonyAB

    How will I ever choose? They are both so bad, and we’ve only just started.

  • Zero G

    My vote is for the Nashville stop.
    At least the Houston stop has a widened concrete area for someone to safely stand away from the shoulder while the Nashville stop is nothing more than a pole in the ground at some random location along the highway.

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