23 Replies to “Beautiful Bus Shelters”

  1. Drip coffee anyone?! The problem with these kinds of shelters (according to the photographs not a shelter from rain) is they are neither practical nor beautiful. Novelty value alone is not a replacement for timeless beauty. Consider this deconstructivist example by Peter Eisenman which has held up relatively well. But nobody uses it because it’s far away from where the buses actually stop and it’s rather dark. The Cleveland shelter is only a narrow abstract sculpture that two people can sit on. Not fit for general use.

    1. The rain on the bench in this photo gave me pause, too. I think I’d take a beat-up old Metro shelter over this.

      1. Yes, shelter from what? When it’s raining, snowing or windy the riders will be exposed to those elements and on hot days the metal may be too hot to sit on or lean against. The bench looks too small to accommodate more than one adult. I think the crescent benches under the tree, just a few feet away, will be more popular than this award winner.

  2. Finally, a simple way to recycle all those bullet-ridden rural road signs! Just flip ’em painted side down, weld ’em together, file down the rough edges and you’re all set.

  3. It is nice-looking. My only question/concern with this type of stuff is now does what should be a $300 bench become a $3000 bench because it’s art?

  4. Is it comfortable? Do people sit on/in it? Cleveland has cold winters; will this sheet of metal be whatsoever approachable in the winter? I don’t know Cleveland that well, but I assume that it has similar high winds and storms to other midwestern cities; is this “shelter” any use in those conditions?

    It doesn’t look like the shelter is actually useful at all, and from the links I followed it doesn’t sound like the architects even gave a second thought to utility or comfort. As if they’d never sat in a bus shelter. Useless artifacts belong in galleries. Elegant design is useful.

  5. Metro’s brown bus shelters are ugly. No amount of children’s art can change that. The overflowing garbage cans aren’t helping either.

  6. I’ve sent a few emails to city council members asking why they allow the law that prohibits Metro from putting ads in shelters to continue. I haven’t gotten a reply yet.

    I still think it should be a priority to repeal this law or at least give Metro some kind of exception. Metro spends too much on shelters, both in construction and maintenance. Just about every other transit agency is able to put ads in their shelters and some get fancy stuff for free from ClearChannel or JCDecaux.

    1. My understanding from conversations at my neighborhood meetings is that the city pays for bus shelters inside the city, and therefore gets to design them to their liking.

      It’s also my understanding that if the city allowed commercial advertising on its property, it couldn’t have tighter regulations against commercial advertising on private property.

  7. Can anybody get me actual citation on prohibition of advertising in Metro shelters? If one exists, seems like in present budgetary climate, repeal shouldn’t take a huge campaign budget.

    Especially if revenue generated could eliminate the need for passengers’ views being blocked by an inside view of filthy plastic “wraps.”

    From what I’ve seen in other cities, lighted advertising panels in shelters provide welcome light, color, and safety wherever they’re used in other cities. Same question as for day passes: if everybody else can do it, why can’t Seattle?

    Both metal shelters referred to above seem to reflect a designer more concerned with a statement than the comfort of transit passengers. Modern techniques and materials should be able to provide shelters that are economical, comfortable, and easily cleanable.

    But these last few decades, many structures and facilities are clearly designed by people who really hate other people, especially us lowlifes who ride transit. Prime case in point is the massive angular bridge over the BN tracks between the Waterfront and the new Sculpture Garden.

    The one that a could easily have designed to include a streetcar maintenance facility as an integral part of the design. Hate to sit on a bench designed by the hand that did that bridge. They don’t make cushions thick enough.

    Mark Dublin

  8. I am all for nice looking bus stops, as long as they are wasteful in the tax spending. I would love it if we could get volunteer to do art for free. However, the problem is the nicer the stop the bigger the target for all of the taggers who think that everything belongs to them.

    1. Experience seems to be that the more effort transit puts into making a facility beautiful, the less graffiti it draws. And vice versa. The things that get tagged the worst, perpetrators could get off with the defense that they honestly didn’t think they could make target look any uglier.

      Also, for DSTT at least, it cost the taxpayers one percent more to have the stations done artistically than it would have cost to leave the place looking like an underground Diamond parking garage. Which would have drawn tons more tags.

      The trick is to bring the artists in to work with the engineers and architects at the earliest phase of the design. There’s a stage when making the facility both beautiful and comfortable doesn’t take an extravagant decision.

      The DSTT, and apparently LINK, really pioneered public art in the transit world. We can be really proud.

      However, re: my above comment on how some designers really feel about humans: against their own wishes, Tunnel artists were ordered not to make the benches too comfortable for fear of attracting vagrants. Would have been better benches for passengers if we’d dealt with an unfortunate social problem another way.

      Mark Dublin

      1. You might be right. I made my statement on personal experience working security.

  9. Dry is beautiful. For what was spent on this bench, an actual shelter would make it more functional.

  10. Can anyone explain why many bus shelters in Seattle face away from the street, when bus shelters in most other parts of the world face the street? Is it supposed to protect people from splashing water? I have never understood this.

  11. Poorly designed bus shelters are a personal pet peeve of mine. Take Sound Transit’s South Everett Freeway station:


    Open, airy, the side walls are blocks of glass with actual slit openings in between them. When it rains and the wind blows the rain blows right through and all over all the passengers.

    Community Transit’s old blue shelters from the 80’s with plexiglass sidewalls on all four sides, two long row benches and openings for passengers at each end are still the best shelters I’ve ever used.

    1. I, too, like the shelters that are nearly enclosed. One saved me from freezing while waiting for my last connecting bus to get home during the blizzard of 2010.

  12. I wonder if Jarrett would care to jump off this to talk about art v. utilitarianism. (This looks like neither to me; and people compare Metro shelters to “fallout shelters”!)

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