In February, Big Blue Bus asked riders what they thought of two new seat designs for the much-criticized new bus stops. And the winner is … both.

BBB is ordering Seat A, which has a taller, more substantial back, but the armrest from Seat B, BBB spokesperson Aimee Wyatt told the Daily Press. Seat B’s armrest is taller and larger.

The alternative seat options were designed in response to the outpouring of complaints about new seats that were installed last year. The Daily Press was swamped with negative letters about the new bus stops. In a highly contentious election season, all City Council candidates agreed on one thing: A disdain for the bus stops.

Complaints were wide-ranging — many disliked the inconsistent shade provided by the station’s parasol — but BBB is focusing on the seats, which took the brunt of the bashing.

Residents complained that the seats are too small, lack armrests, and have backs that are too short.

In a survey, which was taken by more than 300 riders, Seat A was more widely labeled as comfortable and attractive.

When asked if Seat A was comfortable enough to sit in for 5 to 10 minutes, 140 respondents agreed and 60 disagreed. When the same question was asked about Seat B, only 96 agreed while 82 disagreed.

There were 102 respondents who found Seat A attractive and 82 who found it unattractive, compared to 66 who found Seat B attractive and 111 who did not.

BBB analyzed the survey results of seniors and those with disabilities separate from the pool of general respondents and found that the responses were consistent with the overall findings.

“Given the results, staff is proceeding with ordering ‘Seat A’ and the armrest from ‘Seat B’ for all of the remaining shelter sites as well as the locations that have been installed since January,” Wyatt said in an e-mail. “In addition, staff will retrofit previously installed single seats with the new style seating. Production of the new seats with the revised design should be complete by late May 2015.”

The project is expected to be done by the end of the year.

Several residents have noted that the old bus benches, which BBB previously said they’d be scrapping, are still installed at several of the new stops.

“During the seat redesign process, BBB relocated the benches at new construction locations wherever space allowed us to do so,” Wyatt said. “BBB will re-evaluate these placements after installing the new seats at upcoming bus stop constructions and retrofitting the single seats at about 80 stops that were completed last year.”

The total project cost $7 million with 80 percent of that coming from federal grants. The plan was to install 302 bus stops over the course of about two years.

Many of the elements of the Jetsonian bus stops that riders have found frustrating were meant to be artistic, BBB officials said previously.

The project was approved by City Council.

dave@www.smdp.com

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