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D.C. Shows Off New Bus Shelters

At more than 40 spots across the District, bus passengers await their rides under new aluminum and glass shelters. More than 600 of them are on the way under a deal the city signed with Clear Channel Adshel.

new bus shelter.jpg

New shelter design. (Clear Channel)

On Tuesday morning, Mayor Adrian Fenty and Transportation Director Emeka Moneme showed off one of the new ones outside a Popeye's near the intersection of Benning Road NE and East Capitol Street. The new style has great curb appeal. Moneme pointed to one of the old brown, glass-less shelters across Benning Road, and the contrast was immediately obvious.

The new one has a modern, urban look. Plus, it has information. The big new bus map is another breakthrough in shelter design. And someday, we all hope, the panel that runs along the top of the shelter will display Next Bus information, giving riders a realistic idea of how long they'll be waiting. (In October, Metro announced that it was pulling the plug on the system because it wasn't accurate enough. It probably will take more than a year to fix.)

Improving bus service may be our best shot at improving mobility in this region. We can't build enough new roads and we can't build enough new train lines. Buses are cheaper and easier to redirect as needs change. One challenge is getting more people to try the buses. That's why I always praise the D.C. Circulator bus. It's approachable. And that's why I like these new shelters.

Wish we could see a similar effort across the region, not just in the District, though they will be well-used in the city.

The 20-year deal that makes them available is similar to ones that Clear Channel Adshel has entered with cities across the country. The company builds and maintains the shelters in exchange for control of the advertising on them.

The style of the D.C. shelters is unique to the city, and was introduced following a round of community meetings to solicit comment. Alice Kelly of the District Department of Transportation said there was a lot of discussion about the benches, for example. Some people wanted no benches and some wanted heated benches. But the consensus, she said, was to have benches that were comfortable but didn't encourage long term occupancy. (The one at Benning Road has space for three people and is groved in such a way that you wouldn't want to lie across it.)

Also, Kelly said, the original design had sides extending down to the pavement, and people were concerned that trash might collect inside. So the final design has raised up the sides, so debris is unlikely to get trapped inside.

To the District, the shelter contract is worth about $150 million, money it says it will use to finance the Great Streets Initiative to improve the appearance of some of the capital's main transportation corridors.


By Robert Thomson  |  November 28, 2007; 5:49 AM ET
Categories:  transit  
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Next: Metro Cuts Weekend Service

Comments

Would be great if there was a picture of it.

Posted by: dkf747 | November 28, 2007 7:21 AM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: Just added photo from Clear Channel Adshel, but the first link will take you to more, if you go there and click on "New Shelter Design" on the left of that page.

Posted by: Robert Thomson | November 28, 2007 8:05 AM | Report abuse

There's been one at the corner of Eastern Avenue and 16th Street NW for a few months now. It's very attractive, and I'm sure helpful to bus passengers. It's also a good place for me to stretch my calves before running down to Rock Creek Park, which I'm sure is something Metro thought a lot about while designing the shelters.

Posted by: Lindemann | November 28, 2007 9:10 AM | Report abuse

I recently spent a week in Chicago staying at a friends in the north Uptown area. I used busses all week, and was pleasantly surprised. They were very frequent, all shelters had maps, and the routes were easy to understand. I took the El only one day the entire week. There's a lot of room to improve bus service in the DC region.

Posted by: Bill | November 28, 2007 9:34 AM | Report abuse

I recently took a bus from Union Station to Georgetown. My destination was a restaurant I wasn't familiar with, but which was on the bus route. This thought occurred to me: why shouldn't bus stops be numbered? I was craning my neck, looking for street signs left and right, to find the stop nearest my destination. If each bus stop had a unique number, displayed in large numerals on the stop itself, it would be an easy thing to get on the bus and get off at bus-stop 140 (or whatever). That would be as easy as getting on the Metro train and getting off at a particular station. It would make riding the bus much easier.

Posted by: Frank | November 28, 2007 10:26 AM | Report abuse

I saw one of these new shelters at 8th and H NE. Let's see how long it lasts before it gets vandalized. I regret such cynicism but it has proven justified. The bus shelter at 14th and U used to have a useful map. It was vandalized.

Posted by: bus_rider | November 28, 2007 10:34 AM | Report abuse

The benches in the new shelter should be larger to accommodate more than 2 to 3 people because it would encourage more people to use the stop especially at busy bus stop locations. I'm surprised they did not see this one coming. Only three people can use it when you have many more waiting at the stop. Many of shelters in other cities can accommodate up to 5 people. Also, bus service should be improved region wide as an alternative to driving and building rail lines.

Posted by: Dave | November 28, 2007 11:12 AM | Report abuse

They are stylish but not very functional. They could have done a better job in designing these things for people that ride the bus. All it is, is a ploy for ads and money.

Posted by: Sarah | November 28, 2007 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Mayor Tangherlini's and King Fenty's puppet government at work showcasing their good deeds and PR in the hood. The shelters on Benning Road have already been vandalized and they are hard for disable people to get in and out of.

Posted by: Benning Heights | November 28, 2007 1:05 PM | Report abuse

No comment from you yet about Metrorail's idiotic plan to cut the length of trains on weekends? They tried this once before, operating two car trains on nights when there were sports events, and the result was a massive logjam. Now during the Christmas season, when thousands are out every weekend, and returning home with huge packages, Metro is cutting weekend trains by several cars. This is one of the poorest decisions Metro has ever made, and everyone, starting with retailers with stores on the Metro lines, should be howling. I am.

Posted by: Jay | November 28, 2007 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Why does the photo show a flag on the shelter? I have seen these around town but I have not seen the flags on them. I think they are stale and boring. It could have been designed better and made more suitable to the Hill and other distinct parts of DC. What is unique about them? Nothing.

Posted by: Lauren | November 28, 2007 4:36 PM | Report abuse

"(The one at Benning Road has space for three people and is groved in such a way that you wouldn't want to lie across it.)

Also, Kelly said, the original design had sides extending down to the pavement, and people were concerned that trash might collect inside. So the final design has raised up the sides, so debris is unlikely to get trapped inside."

The homeless have already figured out that with a few blankets, the shelter can be as comfortable as a heat grate.

Are we encouraging people to just throw the trash on the group and let the wind allows it to not get trapped inside the shelter but instead, it blows into my yard or into the street? Where are the trash cans for these shelters?

Posted by: Smitty | November 28, 2007 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Nice looking but I hope they are made with special glass. I can just see some hoodlum breaking the glass in these shelters right away and then it never being repaired. That will look fantistic.

Frank, Many times if you tell a bus driver you are going to the stop at X Rd. and Y Rd. they will make sure to stop the bus there for you and usually say "hey this is your stop".

Posted by: Laura | November 29, 2007 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Heated benches? Seriously? It's already a bum shelter, it doesn't need to be a bum hotel.

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