Bus Stop Shelter Reality

One of the complaints I get most often in my role as one of Metro's governance council members is that Metro "needs to provide shelters at every major stop on every route". And I have explained (until I am blue in the face) that Metro doesn't own the shelters, or the benches, or anything else, other than the sign showing what buses stop there.

My friend Kerry Cavanaugh at the Daily News has, thankfully, written an article that sheds more light as to why -- at least in the city of Los Angeles -- there are fewer shelters than the transit-using public would like. It seems that the elected members of the City Council have been blocking efforts by the city's shelter contractor to place shelters in the very places where the bus-riding public would like them to be.

The deal that allows for placement of shelters is a simple one: The contractor (JC Decaux) gets to put up the shelters in exchange for receiving the revenue for selling the advertising on the shelter panels. So Decaux would obviously want those shelters at high-traffic locations ... which just happen to be the same locations where Metro has high-usage bus stops. And I doubt there are any transit-using members of the public who object to Decaux selling ads to subsidize the shelters. So everyone should be happy, right?


Kerry's article quotes Councilman Jack Weiss as saying he thinks "we have enough ads plastered everywhere in public space." In his district (which includes part of the southern San Fernando Valley), only 52 of 385 locations proposed by Decaux have been approved for shelter installations. Councilman Bill Rosendahl is quoted as saying "I will not let them shove these down my throat."

And the shelter bashing doesn't end with elected officials. One neighborhood council member called the shelters "advertising blight" and said "enough is enough".

So I am offering a bit of advice to everyone who has ever wanted a shelter placed at their favorite bus stop: Write your elected member of the City Council. Tell him or her that you disagree with the perception that these shelters are advertising blight and should be restricted. And then make an official request for your favorite corner to receive a shelter.

The fight to get more shelters begins with you, my friends.

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