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SORRIEST BUS STOPS 2021: A First-Round Matchup of Underwhelming Urban Stations

Would you rather race across a truck-clogged road in Philly to catch the bus, or wait in the mud on the side of a French Canadian highway?

Congress is gearing up to pass an infrastructure package that could adequately fund U.S. transit for the first time in a generation — and Streetsblog readers have a few ideas about where we could start spending that cash.

That's right, folks: it's time for our first match up in our quest to find the Sorriest Bus Stop in America.

SBS2021 (3)

After receiving a record-setting number of nominations, we've narrowed it down to just a handful of truly terrible stops for your consideration. And while we don't want to ruin the surprise, let's just say some of them are pretty perilous. (Hint to transit agencies: if you put a stop at the edge of a literal cliff, Streetsblog readers might call you out on it.)

Many of the contenders in our Sweet Sixteen are marooned in the middle of nowhere, but we're kicking off our contest with a big-city match up that demonstrates how even the most transit-rich metropoli can sometimes let their riders down — and why it's so critical that we get them the dollars they need to start treating comfortable and accessible bus stops as a must, rather than a nice-to-have.

Our first first-round matchup pits Philadelphia vs. Quebec City:

Philly's Arterial Abomination

First, have a look at this disaster: 


Serving not one, but two bus routes in the SEPTA network — the agency with the sixth-highest bus ridership in the United States — this textbook example of sorry bus stop is little more than a sign on a utility pole, with nary a bench or a shelter in sight. But according to nominator Matt, the worst thing about it may be how hard it is to even get there in the first place:

This stop is placed midblock on the far-side of a high-volume, high-speed four-lane arterial from a large residential neighborhood which provides the large majority of riders using this stop. They must cross two lanes of traffic, climb through a median which is overgrown with tall weeds, and then cross another two lanes of traffic, all without any crosswalks, curb cuts, or other pedestrian accommodations. The speed limit is 30 mph but the overbuilt highway design of the road encourages much higher speeds.

Eagle-eyed readers will also note that this street is flanked by an industrial machinery rental facility and a parking lot for semi-trucks. Hope none of those massive vehicles are coming or going when all those riders are making a mad dash to the median...

Surely the City of Brotherly Love could show bus riders a little more TLC.

Quebec's Car Dealership Catastrophe

Zut alors, just look at this thing!:

Quebec City 1

While the flailing inflatable tube man might at least provide a little entertainment — though we can only imagine the hilarity that might ensue if a big crowd of riders tried to catch the bus on a windy day — that's about all this French-Canadian embarrassment offers its riders.

Quebec City 3

Located on a narrow strip of grass on the side of a six-lane highway that serves a phalanx of car dealerships, this stop probably doesn't see as many daily riders as its Philadelphia rival, but it is a stone's throw away from a surprising number of shops and restaurants, including the lifeblood of virtually all Canucks: a Tim Horton's.

Of course, because this is the Great White North we're talking about, this bad bus stop gets even worse when it snows — or, more accurately, it all but disappears, forcing riders to either play mountaineer or wait directly in the highway shoulder. (Memo to transit agencies around the world: winter stop maintenance is not a luxury!)

But believe it or not, the waiting zone across the street that serves the westbound route might be even worse.

There, riders have no other choice but to dangle their toes directly into highway traffic — though at least they can lean on that cozy metal jersey barrier if they get tired? (Sorry, anyone who uses a wheelchair.)

We agree with nominator Hoffman that both of these stops are "completely ridiculous," and that @RTCQuebec should make some big changes. And while the next stateside infrastructure bill won't help Les Québécois, we can all use a reminder that the epidemic of bad bus stop knows no borders.

Nominator's wife, photographed with permission.
Nominator's wife, photographed with permission.
Nominator's wife, photographed with permission.

So it's a tough call, but that's why you (our dear readers) get the big money: Which sorry bus stop deserves to advance to the Atrocious Eight?

Polls are open until 5 p.m. (Eastern time) on Thursday, March 18. And tune in tomorrow for our next match up.

[poll id = "173"]

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