CITYWIDE — Bus stop haters, call off your dogs.
The Daily Press has received an outpouring of e-mails, letters, and phone calls in opposition to Big Blue Bus’ new stops. BBB officials say they’ve gotten a “fair amount” — but not an “outpouring” — of complaints. They might make some changes.
The project was approved by City Council in 2010 and installation of the new stops began recently. The total project costs $7 million, with 80 percent of that coming from federal grants.
The new, blue, space-age bus shelters have umbrella-like canopies set a distance from two small seats.
“I’m not sure what has happened to the old benches, but with proper care they could have been in service for years,” one resident wrote to the Daily Press.
“The grey benches were much more handicapped accessible than the silly blue stools that have no back support,” another reader said. “How did this wasteful and incredibly resource intensive project pass in our supposedly ‘green’ city? How can these blue stools be (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant?”
On Facebook a long thread about the shelters has popped up, calling them uncomfortable and ugly. The canopies, the users say, don’t provide shade.
On social media and through e-mail, BBB officials say they’ve also gotten some positive feedback.
The canopies, said BBB spokesperson Suja Lowenthal, are artistic and they do provide shade.
“It’s just not where the seats are sited throughout the bulk of the day,” she said. “The seats are installed where the shade falls at peak boarding periods.”
Several riders, Lowenthal said, have noted that the new seats are not easily usable for people with disabilities.
“In particular, the concern is the lack of armrests, which are used by persons with physical constraints to lift themselves out of a seated position,” she said. “The designers indicate that the short backrest can be used to assist customers to get up from the seat.”
The seats, Lowenthal said, are designed to allow riders to see the incoming buses.
“This design would not accommodate long-term use,” she said. “During lengthy wait times, it may not be the most comfortable.”
Given the customer feedback, Lowenthal said, BBB is looking into ways to improve the new stops. They could add more of the new-style seats, she said, or bring back the old benches.
“We are storing the old benches at BBB headquarters as they are being removed,” Lowenthal said.
BBB, she said, takes all of the complaints seriously.
“The concerns expressed are valid as style and design are very subjective areas,” she said. “The concerns about the functionality are also valid as customers are expressing their personal experiences with sitting and rising from the new seats. If a customer is accustomed to having armrests to assist with getting up from the seat, learning to the backrest is an adjustment.”