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Transit Shelters

A new-look "front door" for transit has been developed for British Columbia transit systems. A series of modern bus shelters designed in B.C. give transit a fresh, contemporary look and higher visibility, while protecting riders from the weather. "It makes for a more pleasant experience for our customers," says Adrian South, who is responsible for the program at BC Transit.

Transit shelters are near the top of the request list from municipalities for improved bus system amenities, and the current program stems from feedback at the 2008 Annual Transit Conference. A recent market analysis also put shelters and other bus stop improvements in the top five enhancements considered essential to attract new transit riders. The new designs suit a variety of locations, from not-so-busy residential stops to central transit exchanges where several bus routes connect.

Building bus shelters has happened on an ad hoc basis in some communities. Advertising companies attracted to the busier urban systems have put shelters in some high-traffic locations, but not in other areas. Some BC Transit systems have the familiar "bubbletop" shelters with ad posters, and they will continue.

For municipalities, the new transit shelter program offers choices. "This gives them more flexibility," says South. BC Transit has developed modern shelter designs for transit systems in the province.

The designs vary in capacity and detailing, but all feature clean lines, good visibility, simple maintenance, and bright LED lighting at night. The familiar standard blue-and-green bus logo in a "lollipop" style sign sits on top of each shelter. The designs are modular, so additional shelter units can be linked to increase capacity.

A good-looking feature of the new shelters that gives them a B.C. flavor while following the Province of BC's "Wood First" initiative are the Douglas fir roof panels and wooden bench seating for waiting riders. Shelter designs also allow for "next-bus" electronic signs to be added in future, and a solar-powered version of shelter designs is coming in response to demand.

At the same time, the designs discourage loitering. Clear sight lines were one of the top design criteria. Perforated mesh and expanded metal walls -- one, two or three sides, as desired -- give bus patrons visibility, and cut wind and rain. They resist vandalism, since the new shelters are built without tempered glass or plexiglass panels, which can deteriorate and fade. There's an anti-graffiti coating on the metal panels and columns in the new shelters.

Picking a Location

All applications for transit shelters are subject to selection criteria, to ensure the best utilization for the municipality and transit network. They include:

  • Number of passenger boardings per weekday
  • Immediate operational and long-term plans
  • Safety of location, for passengers, operators and traffic
  • Historic or current operational concerns
  • Initial site survey
  • Available funding

Cost

Basic shelters cost from $10,000 to $15,000 (based on 2011 reports), while larger models for busier bus stops and park-and-ride locations are from $25,000 to $100,000. As orders increase and manufacturing ramps up, it's expected that costs can be reduced.

Funding

Municipalities may directly purchase approved transit shelters and pay the full cost, taking advantage of the manufacturers' standing offers negotiated by BC Transit. Or they may access provincial funding for almost half of the capital cost. In the Victoria Regional Transit System, the provincial share is almost one-third. A fixed amount of provincial funding is available each year.

Maintenance

Municipalities do upkeep on shelters, replace damaged parts, and are responsible for safety, liability and insurance. They carry out work necessary for installation, such as concrete pads, or electrical connections, where required. Smaller shelters can usually be bolted directly to a sidewalk; larger ones may require new concrete footings. Most parts of the new shelter designs are removable. Manufacturers keep stocks of spare parts for repairs.