Over the last few months, I’ve been on a tear of complaining, both directly to Metro and on the blog, about substandard Metro facilities, perhaps originally motivated by the number of them on Metro’s Route 40, which is one of my new neighborhood’s core bus routes. I’ve had some success with this, but I’m sure the problems which affect my routes affect others too, so I want to share some examples, and get a list of suggestions from readers about where else such facilities exist.
By substandard, I don’t mean lacking premium features like bus bulbs and realtime arrival signs — desirable as those are, they’re expensive, and aren’t going to make sense at every stop — nor even shelters and benches, which are desirable and cheap and thus should be standard everywhere there’s room in the right-of-way. Rather I’m talking about basic functionality like signs which have the correct route numbers printed on them, an absence of overgrown hedges that render riders invisible, and concrete landing pads, so riders can board without walking through roadside landscaping, and wheelchair users can safely board at all.
Here are a few improvements in the works for Ballard and Fremont:
- In June, the notorious Hedge Stop (#18140) on Leary at Ione will be relocated a block north on Leary to a sane location outside Ballard Landmark.
- The new Route 40 stop eastbound on Leary at 11th Ave NW (#28255), currently just a post in a wet, grassy verge, will be properly reconstructed this summer. We’ve previously reported that a new stop is in the works eastbound at 8th Ave NW.
- The “mulch and sprinkler head” stop on Westlake, just south of the Fremont bridge (#26850), pictured above, has also been put on the list for repaving, but may not make it through the design process in time for this summer’s paving season.
- Stops #29217 and #28415 are going to get proper Metro bus signs, not the blank ones they have now.
I’m also told that the new Route 21 stop at 3rd & Lander (#99232), currently a post in a grass verge, is also in line to be upgraded.
Metro staff have been extremely responsive and informative when I have complained about these things, and I sincerely thank them for their work, but I can’t completely let the agency off the hook here. Some of these stops are new, so it’s understandable that they’re still a work in progress, but some of them should have been taken care of years if not decades ago, and it’s really kind of an outrage that they weren’t. What was the agency doing with its money back when it wasn’t broke and understaffed?
Lack of basic comforts and dignity at bus stops perpetuate the corrosive notion that transit riders — bus riders in particular — are second-class citizens. If our local and regional governments are to stand a chance at achieving the mode-share goals they have set themselves, if we are serious about providing an alternative to universal car ownership, this kind of prejudice needs to die, which implies that this kind of substandard facility must precede it in death.
Enough about the past; let’s find things to complain about today. I’m taking suggestions in the comments for other stops that have problems such as those described above, and I will take them up with Metro. I’ll put only one condition on suggestions: they need to be in places with existing sidewalk infrastructure, because adding proper new stops in areas without sidewalks is likely to be very expensive. Every urbanized part of the county should have sidewalks, but there’s no way they’re going to get built out of Metro’s stop improvement budget, that infrastructure needs to come from the responsible municipality.