San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency, the city’s bus and light rail operator, has unveiled new fancy bus shelters (H/T to Mike Fisher):


The panel powers the NextMuni display that tells people when their bus is coming, a Push-To-Talk system so blind people can hear the NextMuni information, and environmentally friendly light bulbs. Each new shelter will also include comfier seats and more maps and transit information. The city is also testing whether the new shelters can have WiFi connectivity after Newsom’s free citywide WiFi idea famously flopped.

Those sound awesome. Here’s a flickr set of the new structures, photos via the Richmond SF Blog. So where is San Francisco getting the money in the midst of the worst economy in generations? It’s something I’ve been talking about for a long time:

Clear Channel Outdoor is paying to create and maintain the shelters in exchange for the advertising space on the sides.

Metro needs to get on the advertising train, they’re leaving millions of dollars unclaimed.

28 Replies to “San Francisco Getting New, Free Bus Shetlers”

  1. Nice. We have to take the side off the shelters in the Cd because of what goes on in them…

  2. Hmm…

    To the idea of tossing Metro’s Craftsman-style shelters for ugly non-wind-blocking corporate eyesores, I say

    1. No
    2. NO!
    3. HELL NO!

    Those Rapid Ride abberations are bad enough. Seattle is unique, and should stay that way. IF and only IF they can come up with a non-invasive ad mount, essentially to extend from the bus shelter to the stop flag post, then I might think its okay.

    Brian Bradford
    Olympia, WA

    1. “Seattle unique”, ya-de ya. Actually, in this department, its uniquely boring. Its time for our city and its transportation system to grow up. Implementing this system will be wonderful for Metro. Its sad to see the city of Everett have better buses and bus stations than we.

    2. Craftsman-style? Apparently because you live in Olympia you don’t get up here to Seattle often. Metro bus shelters look like this (and this is a really nice example): Pretty much as simple as anything could possibly be, with a simple metal frame, a crappy translucent roof, and three walls of plexiglass and painted flimsy plastic or wood or something. Craftsman style means beautiful, unique buildings from the ’20s like this: As for the non-wind-blocking, it appears to have fine wind-blocking. Shelters in a lot of Seattle don’t even have four walls anyways, and this is a big improvement on that.

    3. our shelters look more like shipping containers with the side sawed off. so many other cities in the country have these amenities and more. plus, why spend the money – i’d rather get ad money for ads at the stops vs not be able to see out the windows due to bus wraps.

      1. Amen to that!! I’d love a “no bus wraps but we’ll take this revenue for fancier bus stops” policy.

  3. I’m salivating a litte bit. But I am curious about their weather-blocking capabilities, particularly coming from my Rust Belt sensibility.

  4. I’d rather have Seattle’s bus shelters be uniquely boring than become just another corporate eyesore.

  5. I’m suspecting that this Muni bus shelter will look good to people simply because of the iPod ad.

    “Its time for our city and its transportation system to grow up.” We grow up by putting advertising in the bus shelters?

    There is a lot of great artistic details in Seattle bus shelters. And there may be something to that art and the commercially muted space that is our bus shelters to be taken more as an investment into our communities than wasted income.

    Do we really want to replace this: with ?

  6. From looking at the photos on Flickr, It looks like there’s really only 1 ad (possibly a second on the other side). I think that’s not too bad for what you get from the shelter.

    Also, to say we cant use them here because it won’t block the weather isn’t a valid argument. This shelter appears to be completely custom designed for Muni. If Seattle wanted to sign up for something like this, I’m sure they could arrange for a shelter with more coverage.

    I think that these shelters should not be dismissed as a bad idea. We might despise ads her (I don’t hear complaints about billboards, and we might be unique (As pointed out above, Metro’s shelters are very boring and not really anything special), but we ARE facing major upcoming service cuts due to the gigantic hole in Metro’s budget.

    I’d take free bus shelters with a next bus display, larger maps, solar-powered lighting, and comfier seats over service cuts any day.

  7. Ads on bus sheters, what a novel idea. I wonder if any other cities have thought of that? Oh yeah, just about every other city on Earth…

    San Francisco, although most people seem to think it’s some sort of magical utopia, is just jumping on an obvious bandwagon that Metro is stupidly ignoring.

    1. Seattle is about the only major US city I’ve been to that doesn’t have ads on bus shelters/benches.

      1. I really dislike Ad benches. I think the are truly ugly and shouldn’t be allowed. However, a simple ad on the side of a bus shelter would not be a big deal to me, especially if it means more or better bus service.

  8. Presumably the same law against ad kiosks that led to the toilet fiasco also prevent this sort of a scheme from working with bus shelters. And if losing nearly $1,000,000 in that disaster wasn’t enough to make the city change the stupid law, good luck trying to get them to fix it in order to get some free bus shelters. Then again, the economy is even worse off now than it was then, so maybe they’ll finally see the light.

    1. A little more searching found something more to the point, from back in ’99 when the City first decided to not revise the Sign Ordinance to allow ads to pay for the toilets:

      But Seattle’s 1994 anti-billboard law prohibits [ad kiosks], and some council members worried that changing the code would open the door to legal challenges that could overturn it.

      Yesterday’s decision was a blow to Metro, which was hoping to replace many of its downtown bus shelters as part of a toilets-for-advertising deal. The bus shelters would have been designed to accommodate the new advertising.

      Of course, this doesn’t stop Metro and ST from making these sorts of deals for shelters outside of the City of Seattle. But in the City it seems like a no-go.

    2. somehow i suspect the current economic mess might add a little grease to the repeal-the-sign-ordinance wheels this time around. why not write your city councilperson (in seattle) and the county council and suggest it as a good way to save metro budget $$$

  9. Yeah, I hate seeing ads all over things as much as the next guy… but Seattleites need to wake up!

    Everyone wants more services — buses, trains, library hours, community center programs, etc. — but no one wants to pay higher taxes.

    Well, this is the trade-off…

  10. I’d take the sleek free bus shelters with bus time arrivals and comfier seats over the ugly, dirty, poop-colored shelters of Metro any day. As others said, WAKE UP PEOPLE.

  11. What kind of income would Metro get for advertising in bus shelters under a Clear Channel deal? What is the annual budget for maintaining bus shelters now?

    1. Well, if you read the article, Clear Channel is paying for both construction and maintenance. MUNI is not receiving any sort of income.

      1. Still those are shelters which MUNI doesn’t have to build or maintain. Either way it is more money MUNI has for other things.

        If Metro was to cut a similar deal, Metro could use the shelter budget for something else.

  12. Oh man, I just moved back to Seattle after living in San Francisco for the last year, and I can’t stand the metro. I had to wait nearly an hour because the bus didn’t show up TWICE! (the 44) In San Francisco, you never had to even look up the bus times because you never had to wait more than 10 minutes no matter where you were. The next bus reader lets you actually know when the bus will come. And besides the bus San Francisco also has multiple light rail routes (that actually gets you where you need to go!) and a great subway system that will take you down the street or take you miles and miles out of the city and all around the Bay Area. Seattle really needs to “WAKE UP” and do whatever they can to improve this horrible transit system! Stop focusing on the car commuters and focus on the people who support this city everyday!

    1. You mean the cable cars? I’m a Seattleite currently on vacation in San Francisco, and I just rode the cable cars for the first time today. I had never hung off the side of a transit vehicle before. :)

      That said, I agree with you – San Francisco really has a wonderful transit system. Especially interesting is that all the modes you describe are run by Muni, which covers just San Francisco and has flat fares. If you want to go to East Bay or South Bay, you take BART or Caltrain with their distance-based fares. This is something that I think is really messed up in Seattle – Seattle doesn’t run its own transit system, it is just a part of King County Metro. All of King County from Seattle to Sammamish pay into one big pot of money and then our elected representatives bicker endlessly about how to divvy it up. And since there are Metro routes that go long distances across the county, our buses have confusing zone-based fares. As others on this blog have suggested, I think it would be a lot better if each city (or at least Seattle) just ran its own service, and Sound Transit continued to focus on building a regional rail system to connect them all.

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