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“Sorry Bus Stops” Contest Enters the Final Four: New Orleans vs. Cincinnati

It’s time to start the Final Four!

After weeks of sorting through some of America's saddest, most degrading and dangerous bus stops: There are just four sorry stops left standing.

Today we're kicking off the Final Four by matching up two great American cities, steeped in history and culture and (apparently) sorry bus stops. It's New Orleans vs. Cincinnati.

The winner of this match will take on either Vancouver or Pittsburgh for all the gross marbles later this week.

Whether they advance or fall short, each is certainly a sad statement on the status of public transit in America. First up...

New Orleans

new orleans stop

What is there left to say about this garbage bus stop on Tullis Street, in the Algiers neighborhood that hasn't already been said?

Streetfilms went down to New Orleans earlier this year and talked to an older woman who worked with Ride New Orleans to lobby the agency for a bus bench and a shelter in front of the retirement home where she lived.

"We were just standing in the rain and standing in the cold and waiting for our bus to come," she said. "It's very important."

Since Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans has poured a lot of resources into rebuilding its trolley system, which largely serves tourists. Meanwhile, the bus system, which is important to low-income workers, has suffered. By 2014, Ride New Orleans reported, only 29 percent of the bus service that was in place before the storm had returned.

Fortunately, that group's advocacy has led to some reforms in how the city regulates bus shelters and benches. But there is much more work to be done as this stop demonstrates.

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.

In earlier rounds of competition, New Orleans beat Miami and Nashville.

Cincinnati

Cincinnati bus stop
The runner up is really bad, too.

This bus stop, like so many of the others we've featured, is emblematic of a city's refusal to provide basic amenities for transit riders, while lavishing money on highways (also pictured).

It is located in Springfield Township, Ohio, on the outskirts of Cincinnati. We reached out to township officials for comment but received no response.

It beat out Ypsilanti, Mich., and McKees Rocks, Penn. in earlier rounds of competition thanks to ... well just look at it.

Cam Hardy, president of Cincinnati's Better Bus Coalition, said these kinds of facilities tell a story about inequality in Cincinnati, and racial inequality is a big part of that.

"We call ourselves a city on the move," he said. "I get on the bus and look around and there’s a bunch of black folks sweating because the bus has no air conditioning or the bus breaks down. 

"There’s really two Cincinnatis in Cincinnati."

On one hand neighborhoods like Over the Rhine have seen a surge of investment and new residents. But quality of life isn't getting better for everyone he says.

"That bus stop is part of the grim reality of Cincinnati," he told Streetsblog.

Meanwhile, the Better Bus Coalition has taken it upon themselves to add benches at bus stops around the city. The construct simple benches out of wood, using donations. They cost about $30 a piece to make. Fifteen have been installed around the city.

Hardy says he's hopeful Cincinnati's inclusion in the competition will put pressure on the Southwest Ohio RTA to act. The agency had contracted with a private firm to install bus shelters and benches but the contracted was terminated this year when the firm failed to deliver, WCPO in Cincinnati reports.

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