Meet the Final Four in Our “Sorry Bus Stops”™ Contest

the final four

Over the last few weeks, we’ve taken readers on a tour of America’s sorriest bus stops, trimming down a list of dozens of nominees to 16. The public has voted, and now we’re down to the Final Four.

So here we go: The four sorriest, most dangerous and neglected bus stops this year are, drum roll, please, in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Vancouver and New Orleans.

These bus stops aren’t just ugly. They’re hazards. They’re evidence that something has gone fundamentally wrong that people are being exposed daily to these conditions.

Beginning next week, we’ll start the matchups. But for now, we wanted to give all of your sports fans a proper preview of our finalists:

Pittsburgh

This garbage bus stop just outside Pittsburgh, in the borough of West View, overcame horrific stops in Medford, Massachusetts, and Suffolk County, N.Y. to reach the Final Four.

pittsburgh bus stop

 

The Port Authority of Allegheny County sent us a rather testy email response to our request for a comment on this issue. (Apparently, the agency would rather quibble with us than fix its stops, but it also did admit that it has a problem.) The Port Authority has made a number of prior appearances in this competition, having two stops in the tournament last year, including the overall runner-up. Nevertheless, here’s what the agency said:

We have assessed the stop and agree that it is quite sorry. And, since it is within very close proximity to another stop that is more accommodating to transit riders and pedestrians, we’ve already made arrangements for this stop — and the corresponding stop across the street — to be eliminated.

Port Authority is long overdue for a full assessment of each of our 7,000 bus stops, and until then we evaluate locations and make changes as issues like this are brought to our attention.

Eliminating the stop is sort of a cop out way to fix a sorry bus stop. But it’s also an admission that this is, indeed, one of the sorriest stops in the nation.

New Orleans

new orleans stop

 

The location of this stop has been corrected by Lawrence Mason, III, of Ride New Orleans, who nominated it. It is actually on Tullis Street, in New Orleans’ Algiers neighborhood, not on Sullen Place as we previously reported. This updated photo also shows the high grass, which helped advance it past Miami and Nashville in the competition, has recently been cut, at least for a brief space around the stop. This is pretty good evidence that the negligence is not total. But this stop is still quite sorry.

It is served by three New Orleans RTA bus lines. And the stop is opposite the Cypress Run Apartments, relatively affordable market rate apartments.

Matthew Hendrickson, of the nonprofit advocacy group Ride New Orleans says this stop is indicative of some of the conditions endured by riders. New Orleans gets very hot and it gets very rainy, so having “a shady place to sit and protection from the elements is super important.”

Until recently, however, New Orleans zoning code required completing a fairly extensive permitting process, plus paying a $1,200 permitting fee per bus shelter added. The rules, thankfully, were recently relaxed. RTA still needs a permit to install shelters, but it can submit for multiple shelters at once and it doesn’t have to go through an onerous design review process, Hendrickson said.

Still the conditions around bus stops are one of the top concerns cited by riders involved with Ride New Orleans, Hendrickson said. About 90 percent of New Orleans 2,200 bus stops do not have a shelter.

Local advocates have held rallies and campaigns to draw attention to this problem. Some of their work was highlighted in this Streetfilms video from earlier this year.

As a result of public pressure, RTA has since committed to adding 20 bus shelters per year but has not committed to making up for the five years of lost time where none were installed, Hendrickson says.

Cincinnati

Cincinnati bus stop

This treacherous bus stop, located in Springfield Township (pop: 14,000) was submitted by an anonymous reader. It beat out Ypsilanti, Mich., and McKees Rocks, Penn. in earlier rounds of competition thanks to … well just look at it.

It’s nothing more than a sign on an electric pole and you have to jump a guard rail and stand on a highway embankment.

So who’s to blame?

Thanks to some great reporting by Pat LeFleur at WCPO we know Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority approved a contract last summer with the firm Clean Zone Marketing to sell ads at bus stops that could be used to buy 20 shelters and 60 benches. But this year the contract was terminated. None of the shelters or benches was installed.

SORTA is facing a $184-million deficit over the next 10 years. Despite that, county leaders refused to seek a levy in November. So a fix doesn’t appear to be forthcoming, unless bus riders succeed at bringing a levy to the ballot directly.

Meanwhile, grassroots advocates at the Better Bus Coalition have taken to making their own and installing them around the city.

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I don’t know if there was ever any better evidence than this that we regard bus riders as second-class citizens in our transportation system.

Vancouver

vancouver bus stop
Vancouver probably isn’t the first place that springs to mind when you think about sorry bus stops. But this stop, in the suburb of Pitt Meadows about 25 miles outside of Vancouver, is a doozy.

Submitted by Jason Lee, it blew past the Bay Area suburb of San Rafael as well as Beverly Hills in the earlier rounds. The stop is located on Loughheed Highway, which hosts frequent transit service but is clearly very dangerous for pedestrians. There were 33 fatal crashes on the road over the last 10 years, Lee points out.

You can see in the picture the outside lane is reserved for buses. But yikes, you have to be brave to wait there. A spokesperson for the transit agency, Translink, told us that usually bus stop amenities, like shelters, are the responsibly of the local municipality. But that this stop has been flagged internally by Translink as a safety issue. (Lee says he reported it.)

“It doesn’t mean that we sort of wash our hands of it,” the spokesperson said.

But having a “proper pullout” in this area, would require the cooperation of the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation, which is responsible for this scary road. We reached out to the agency for comment, but had not received a response at the time this went to press.

And there you have it, Streetsblog readers — our Final Four. Stay tuned next week.

bus_stop_2018_final_four

  • J. Geoff Rove

    I have to vote for BC, the road looks like an 8 lane freeway. The only people I see using the BC and Pitt stops are lawn crews arriving to work on cutting the surrounding weeds. Are gas powered weed whackers allowed on transit ?? How about lithium battery powered 🙂

  • Christopher Wyatt

    All of these stops look awful, but the Cincinnati one is the worse in my opinion as there is the least amount of standing room. At the other three stops, an able-bodied person would still be able to safely step away from the roadway, either by simply stepping off the edge or (in the case of BC) climbing over a jersey barrier. At the Cincinnati stop, all that exists on the other side of the guard rail is a steep ravine, so there is literally nowhere to hide.

  • James Arsenault

    Vote BC as the winner due to dangerous bus stop anywhere in America and Canada.

  • Marc Pilon

    Wish I had seen this before! In my work area, many bus stops don’t have amenities, in an industrial area where streets have two lanes both ways and no shoulder, no sidewalk. In the summer, its not too bad, people can stand on the lawn, but in the winter!! They have to climb the snow bank in order not to get hit by cars in late day darkness.

  • bikechi_sea

    It would be awesome to collect bus drivers’ opinions regarding sorry bus stops. What do they think of them? How do they think they function (fine as-is or they’re terrible), and what should be done to improve them? I assume most think they lack the most basic safety and access accommodations, but I feel like we often hear what transit agency spokespeople and planners think, and rarely the bus operators.

  • VancouverLocal

    We’re #1! We’re #1!

  • Ian W

    With all due respect to the American challengers (and on pure danger, Cincinnati is a strong contender), I really think the vote has to go to Vancouver. Why? You need look no further than this very blog which gives Translink (the operating organization) and Vancouver, high marks.
    Don’t Be Mistaken: Vancouver Gets a Lot for Its Transit Dollar
    (https://usa.streetsblog.org/2015/03/30/dont-be-mistaken-vancouver-gets-a-lot-for-its-transit-dollar/)
    Transit Ridership Slumping? Not in Canada
    https://usa.streetsblog.org/2018/04/23/transit-ridership-slumping-not-in-(canada/)
    Vancouver’s Multi-Modal Success Story
    (https://usa.streetsblog.org/2016/12/06/vancouvers-multi-modal-success-story/)

    Every municipality in the region claims to prioritize livable cities, public transit and alternatives over the Single Occupancy Vehicle:

    Translink even have 11 year old guidelines on ” UNIVERSALLY ACCESSIBLE BUS STOP DESIGN”
    (https://www.translink.ca/~/media/Documents/rider_guide/access_transit/Universally%20Accessible%20Bus%20Stop%20Design%20Guidelines.ashx)

    And then you see this bus stop.

    I can’t speak to how highly the other communities prioritize transit or transit rhetoric, but I’m sure it does not come close to Vancouver and Translink.

  • eh

    Out of the shown 4, I have to say Vancouver. It’s a 8-lane, those roads are busier than than the rest, and there are barriers on both sides, so imagine someone with mobility issues trying to go through.

  • tomwest

    This revels the difference between TransLink and the organisations that maintain the stop and the road.

  • Paul

    As someone who got hit by an out of control minivan when I wasn’t even on the pavement (I was on the grass) these stops makes me shudder. Especially these days with distracted driving.

  • User1

    These all look awful, but like others have said, Vancouver. This looks like a tough one even if the riders were fit! And just getting there looks like your problems aren’t over. Still got to be some ninja to get out of the way of any reckless drivers.

  • These final four America’s sorriest, most dangerous and neglected bus stops this year are, drum roll, please, in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Vancouver and New Orleans. Cooperation of the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation need to take some action for the safety of people.
    March 2019 Calendar

  • Frank Kotter

    If the bus stop featured in the STREETFILMS piece was purpose designed to allow a passage for wheelchair riders from the manor to have easy access onto the bus, then I can’t give enough praise on all those who made it happen.

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