Building Better Bus Stops Can Be a Snap
Bus transit is often treated as an afterthought in American cities. Building out the infrastructure needed to make it reliable—like dedicated bus lanes or better boarding platforms—can require costly and disruptive roadwork. That can make local governments hesitant to take on such projects, even though evidence shows that improving bus networks is key to increasing ridership. (Just look at Seattle.)
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Some cities are now showing the rest of the U.S. that building better bus stops doesn’t have to be a daunting endeavor. That it can be, quite literally, a snap.
New York, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, and Oakland are now experimenting with quick-build platforms made with recycled plastic panels that snap together like puzzle pieces and bolt into the ground. Some are floating boarding islands, which leave room for bikers to safely pass by. Others are bulbs that jut out from sidewalks, allowing buses to stop without leaving their lanes. Transit experts says that small change can shave 5 to 20 seconds per stop.
Some assembly is required, but it doesn’t involve heavy equipment. They’re environmentally friendly, too: The Barcelona-based company Zicla recycles city-generated waste into products that those very cities can use to protect cyclists and pedestrians.
These may not be the fanciest bus stops you’ll ever see— they’re certainly not the high-tech bus stops that Singaporeans use. But consider how many truly awful bus stops there are, and how slow and costly it can be to upgrade them. According to the blog People for Bikes, each of Zicla’s platforms costs around $50,000. But perhaps a better way to think about this is what cities don’t have to spend on.
“Where it really saves on cost is the elimination of the need for that really complicated engineering, like when a city wants to change the curb line and pull it out to bring the platform to the bus,” said Aaron Villere, senior program associate with the Designing Cities Initiative at the National Association of City Transportation Officials.