Tag Archives: shelters

Homage to a brilliant bus nerd

I recently passed this Jacob Lawrence tribute shelter on Jefferson, somewhere between 18th and 21st.

Jacob Lawrence bus stop

I can’t believe I never noticed it before!

Thanks to my dad, I’ve known and appreciated Lawrence’s work since childhood. (Pops was both an admirer of Mr. Lawrence’s paintings and an acquaintance of the artist.) What I didn’t know until I read this HistoryLink essay is that both Lawrence and his wife, Gwendolyn Knight, were bus people.

In 1971, Jacob Lawrence accepted a teaching position at the University of Washington’s School of Art. … As part of the move and their effort to become part of the community, they bought a house that was near both the University and a bus stop.

For apartment dwellers who had never owned a car or a freestanding home, all of this was an adventure. They walked or took the bus nearly everywhere they went.

The evidence is mounting, folks. There’s definitely a connection between transportation and inspiration.

Out with the old…

Bus Nerd spotted this bus shelter being towed right past our kitchen window:

Bye bye, bus shelter!

I assume it’s off to be cleaned, etc. (hope they left a note this time), but I liked the metaphor. And speaking of…

I’ve spent the last week celebrating a couple of major milestones: the results of the election (buses and stations and trains–oh my!) and Chicklet’s birthday (Nerd’s dad and my Gail were in town to celebrate with my Seattle fam). After seven full days of basking, I’m back and ready to return to my regularly scheduled programming.

About those missing shelters…

Good news! From Dale at Metro:

We noticed…that you are interested in what became of the bus shelters in the photos…next to the Douglas Truth Library. The shelters were removed last week for refurbishing, and will be re-installed this week. All Metro bus shelters are pulled every 7 to 8 years, repainted and reinstalled w/new windows, walls, and translucent roofs. When a shelter is pulled it is usually replaced the same day or within a few days after the removal.

The terra cotta tile artwork that was in these shelters, will need additional restorative work before returning to the shelters, but should be re-installed in the shelters sometime this fall.

I am relieved to know that my shelters will soon return. Now if only we riders were provided with warnings before our shelters were removed. Something as simple as a paper rider-alert sign near the schedule would have eliminated a lot of confusion.

No shelter (or, “Dude, where’s my bus stop?”)

This morning, I walked out of my house to discover that the two bus shelters on my corner had been removed.

No more shelter for 27 riders
No more shelter for 4 and 48 riders

These were no ordinary shelters. They were spacious and attractive, with wood carvings that told the story of the community on their walls. And bus riders actually used them. A lot.

Here’s what one of them used to look like:

My friend Monique (aka Original Glamazon), waiting for the 27

So, the question is, why did Metro remove them? Are they being replaced? The last I heard, we were trying to get more shelters in King County. Why waste money replacing shelters that are perfectly functional, even pleasant? Are they being removed permanently? If so, why? At the very least, we should have seen a “rider alert” message at the stops and/or on Metro’s website.

As if the trash-can removal at our adopted stop wasn’t bad enough. What’s the deal, Metro?

Speaking of adopted stops…

Recently, Metro removed the trash can from Good Shepherd’s adopted stop without even attempting to contact the church’s members. (I found out when I showed up for garbage duty a few weeks ago.) Now, I know why. Sometime between my attempted garbage duty and today, a shelter was added to that stop. Bus stops with shelters can’t be adopted (and, apparently, can be “un-adopted” retroactively) because they have large, free-standing trash cans that are emptied by Metro. The addition of the shelter is, of course, a good thing, but what’s with the covert operation? A little communication would have been much appreciated.

And oh yeah: Can we get a bench in there?

A new shelter at Good Shepherd's former adopted stop

The new transit advertising debate (or, Bus wraps: “so last year.”)

Because I’d like to see more and better public transportation in this region, I’d also like to see more–and better–sources of public transportation funding. In my ideal world, we’d fund transit with gas taxes, parking taxes, tolls, and congestion charges–instead of just sales tax. For now, I’ll settle for advertising as a source of revenue.

Which brings me to my point…

In December, the King County Transit Advisory Committee, “an appointed County board drawn from King County Metro Transit riders,” sent a letter to Seattle City Councilmember Jan Drago encouraging the city to allow “tasteful” advertising in bus shelters. (Apparently, this is currently not allowed.) An excerpt from the letter:

The King County Transit Advisory Committee respectfully requests that you and your Seattle City Council colleagues study the potential for Seattle to join with Metro Transit in placing revenue-generating, tasteful advertising panels on Seattle-area Metro Transit bus shelters.

Our committee has researched the use of bus shelter advertising in municipal locations within the United States and internationally. We have learned that municipalities can tightly control advertising content and images, while striking revenue deals that greatly enhance the ability to provide shelters and another important customer amenity, signage. Given the urgent need to upgrade customer service and amenities during the coming decade, the King County Transit Advisory Committee strongly favors the use of such advertising-enhanced revenue to increase the number, cleanliness and quality of bus shelters, adjacent lighting and informational signage within the City of Seattle.

(Full disclosure. I was recently appointed to the TAC. I attended my first meeting as a member on February 13th.)

I’d love to see more shelters and better signage, but I’m afraid it will be difficult to come to consensus about how we define “tasteful.” I was all for bus wraps (which, in case you missed it, are going away) until I saw McDonald’s-wrapped buses and Fox-News– and Mercedes-Benz- wrapped People Movers in Detroit. I also hate the idea of corporations having that kind of access to our public spaces. (Anyone seen the monument to Starbucks at Powell Barnett?)

That said, I’ve seen bus shelter ads in other cities, and they actually looked nice. Here are a few examples I found in my own photo archives:

Paris shelter ad
Paris shelter ad
Vacnouver shelter ad
Vancouver shelter ad

The TAC’s letter also has a few.

Bottom line: We need more transit funding, and we definitely need more shelters and better signs. I support the shelter ads, but I’ll continue to raise my voice (and vote) for more public funding of public transit.

Your turn.