Talk about an October surprise!
Just as readers are energetically casting their ballots in the last round of our annual “Sorriest Bus Stops” contest, the Cincinnati-area transit agency overseeing one of the finalists says it will eliminate the horribly dangerous depot that is currently running neck-and-neck with its rival, Vancouver.
“We apologize for the inconvenience and unsafe condition this may have placed on our riders,” a spokesperson for Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Agency told Streetsblog. “We are currently in the process of evaluating all of our 4,000 plus bus stops to ensure they are located in the most safe and ideal locations.”
The spokesperson added that the “sorry” stop — on Daly Road in Springfield Township, just outside Cincinnati — will be eliminated as part of that review.
In a perfect world, Streetsblog wouldn’t have to shame local transit agencies and transportation departments into making bus stops meet minimum safety standards. But clearly that’s not the world we live in yet. And it’s not the first time this competition has inspired some soul-searching — and led to some concrete improvements.
The runner-up “sorry” stop in our first tournament in 2016 — a sad pick-up spot outside Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals — was completely revamped the following year. It now has a safe waiting area for riders and even shelter, seating and a trash can. It wasn’t that the city or the transit agency couldn’t afford to build a nice bus stop — it was just overlooked, even though millions had been spent on parking structures for the stadium.
But the best response came from Boston, which had a stop that made it all the way to the Final Four in 2016 before losing to an even sorrier stop in Silver Spring, Md.
After the contest, Boston’s MBTA undertook a systemic evaluation of all its 8,000-plus bus stops, flagging a few hundred for safety and accessibility problems. Roughly 130 were eliminated and another 150 were improved. The Boston Globe reported last year that the agency had set aside $6 million in capital funding for the initiative.
Although transit agencies and cities historically haven’t been very attentive to these issues, we know they matter to riders. A 2016 survey by TransitCenter [PDF] found that safe and appealing waiting environments were among the most important considerations for transit users.
Eliminating a bad bus stop, as SORTA says it will do, can be sort of a cop-out. But in the agency’s defense, it appears there are two more bus stops — one in each direction — a short distance away. They aren’t fancy, but they aren’t behind guard rails on highway embankments, so that’s an improvement.
Here’s an image of one just a few blocks away.
It’s unclear whether SORTA’s announcement will alter the voting in the final round of our contest, which, at press time, which Vancouver was leading by a very slim margin. Will Streetsblog readers affirm SORTA’s decision by giving what amounts to a posthumous “Sorriest Bus Stop” title, or will readers stuff the ballot box for Vancouver to shame transit officials there into fixing what is now, de facto, the sorriest bus stop in (North) America?
Readers, you have the final say. Vote here. Polls close at 11 p.m. Eastern time.