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America’s Best Bus Stops Round 1: Natural Wonders

Editor's note: This is our third first-round bout in our contest to find America's Best Bus Stop. In our first bout, Boston trounced two fantastic stops in Milwaukee and Albany, Calif. Voting in our second bout, the battle of the bus stations, is still open; click back to cast your vote by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, March 22, and don't forget to scroll the bottom of this post to support your favorite in today's match-up. 

Great bus stops don't grow on trees — but a lot of them sure do have a lot of greenery.

Today, we're looking at three waiting areas that celebrate the natural world, even when they're planted in the middle of a concrete jungle. And some of them incorporate Mother Nature in some pretty creative ways.

Let's dig right in. (Yes, that is a gardening joke.)

Juneau

The very first submission we received for this contest doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles — but who needs them when you've got a view like this?

Via Google Maps
Photo: Google
Via Google Maps

Serving the Alaskan capital of Juneau's downtown, and located just blocks from the governor's mansion, this stop is a transfer point for many of the Last Frontier's 16 bus lines, a number which isn't too shabby for a town of just 32,000 people. Riders are sheltered from the Last Frontier's famous winters by a handsome overhang built into the adjacent building, seating abounds, and the streets nearby are calm, slow, and designed at human scale.

"This bus stop straddles the line that makes life in Juneau so charming," wrote our anonymous nominator. "A walkable city in the foreground and gorgeous mountains and forests in the back. Only thing that could make it better? Increased service hours — funded by the federal government."

We couldn't agree more, though it might be nice if the entire curb lane were reserved for buses only, rather than devoting half the block to private car parking. Incorporating some street trees to complement those stunning snow-capped peaks could be nice, too.

Still, we can think of way worse places to wait — and you might think this stop deserves your vote.

Juneau 2

Escondido, Calif.

This stop could have also been a contender in the battle of the bus stations, but we chose to include it in this bracket because of everything the agency did to give riders a little shade.

Escondido 2

Located in a sunny suburb of San Diego, the Escondido Transit Center is a large multimodal mobility hub that serves as a light rail station, bus rapid transit pick-up, and a stop for local lines, all served by a 10 mile rail-trail that ends right at the station. We strongly recommend clicking around Google Street View to get a sense of the space, which could have easily been a sprawling hot concrete mess, but looks pretty hospitable, thanks to the addition of thoughtful elements like trees, benches, shelters, and snack machines.

"It's got multiple bays for bus service, bike parking, plenty of seating for [people waiting], some structures to provide shade," said nominator Greg. "Despite being a mess of suburban sprawl, North County San Diego has surprisingly good public transit."

Via Google Maps.
Photo: Google
Via Google Maps.

The Escondido Transit Center doesn't seem to offer much in the way of indoor waiting space, which might not be ideal for all riders when temperatures climb. And before you email us, yes: we're well aware that concrete benches with no backs aren't the coziest.

Still, this station has some serious strong points — and it might even be your favorite to win it all.

Minneapolis

Here's a novel way to bring a little greenery to your bus stop: build it out of aluminum.

Via Google Maps
Photo: Google
Via Google Maps

This floral stop in north Minneapolis was created by Twin Cities-area artist and landscape architect Marjorie Pitz, who designed the space to resemble an eight-sided vase stuffed with colorful flowers. It looks downright delicate, but this thing once survived a tornado in 2011, thanks to Pitz's forethought to design the stems to bend in the wind.

"This whimsical shelter brings a little color to an area of North Minneapolis that could use some," said our anonymous submitter.

The stop also features some more traditional landscaping, too, along with some pretty good benches and low walls that can double as extra seating, and a gorgeous mixed-use path runs along the east side of the stop to keep cyclists and walkers out of traffic.

Via Google Maps
Photo: Google
Via Google Maps

Unfortunately, this sturdy shelter took a little damage recently, which our submitter suspects was the result of a collision with an automobile. We couldn't find record of the crash, but that seems like a pretty safe bet considering that this stop sits astride a monster five-way intersection, which includes a gnarly 30 mph arterial. (You can see the aftermath on the 2021 Street View.)

Still, there's no doubt that this stop is something special — but it's up to you to decide whether it deserves to be our champion.

Time to vote: polls will be open until Sunday, March 27 at 11:59pm.

[poll id="206"]

Here's the full bracket if you're playing along at home.

America's Best Bus Stops (6)

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