Bus and tram stops by universal design

A young woman is sitting in a bus shelter and looking down the road. The shelter is lit and has an information board.Public transport is often perceived as an inefficient way to travel, especially in terms of time taken. Not good for customer service or engagement. A new research paper reports on a detailed analysis of transit stop positioning using a holistic universal design approach. The following scenario from the paper’s conclusions will be familiar to some:

“To get from my house to the nearest restaurant is a mile-and-a-half walk, which takes me about 30 minutes each way. To get to the same restaurant by bus, I must walk half a mile, then cross a heavily traveled arterial street with no pedestrian protection to arrive at the nearest stop (it’s unprotected) for a route that passes the restaurant. Once the bus arrives, I have to ask the driver where the bus is going, since there’s no signage at the stop, pay the fare, and then watch as the bus stops six times in the remaining mile, all of those stops on the same arterial street I just crossed to board the bus. It takes me 10 minutes to walk the half-mile to the bus stop, and according to the Met Transit schedule, it takes the bus another 20 minutes to negotiate the remaining mile to the restaurant, so walking or riding the bus are equivalent in terms of time spent. It’s the sort of bus service that encourages people to drive a car instead.”

A universal design approach looks at the whole area and the street linkages that encourage active travel. The article addresses the placement and design of the stops in detail. There’s some joined up thinking for the eighteen elements identified including: safety, convenience, lighting, routing patterns, width of footpaths and pedestrian activity. The pros and cons of different stop placements are listed in a table. The research found that add-ons, such as WiFi and USB ports, were not highly regarded, but service frequency and faster travel times were. Shelters at stops and up to date information were critical design elements.

A transit stop in itself serves more than one purpose: it signals the presence of a transit service, information about the service, information about surrounding destinations, and a place to wait. This article draws together the many elements that transport designers should consider in providing, what is in essence, a good customer service experience.

The title of the article is: Urban Design of On-Street Stops and Road Environments: A Conceptual Framework.

Abstract:  Transit stops should be situated where they are convenient to use and the safety of passengers and alternative road users has been taken into consideration. A review of literature has indicated that there are some important factors that should be taken into consideration at the design and planning stage. These factors have been found to have the ability to influence the location of a transit stop and transit shelter. The underlying focus of this paper is that on-street stops and their connecting roads are viewed as a holistic environment, instead of an ordinary place or location for transit modes to make a stop. This environment includes elements such as: Accessibility through street connectivity, street and road design, and transit stop design.This paper develops a conceptual model that links the various variables together, highlighting how one affects the other and their impact on the overall ability to produce a good passenger experience, which is the fundamental goal of any successful on-street stop design. This paper concludes that transit stops are easier to locate when there is high street connectivity which determines to a large extent how transit passengers gain access to transit service. Also, proper design and configuration of on-street stops and connecting roads lead to increased safety, thereby leading to increased ridership and revenue and also impact how everyone on the street interacts with the transit system.