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Readers wonder if ads are more important than riders at transit shelters: The Fixer

It looks like there’s something fishy going on with the placement of transit shelters, or maybe it’s just incompetence.

But somebody has a lot of explaining to do, and it isn’t the TTC.

Our recent columns about a new shelter where riders only get off the bus, and another that provides no shelter but is a great advertising platform, provoked a storm of comment from readers who think they’re all about ads, instead of passengers.

It has us wondering how many shelters are in high-traffic areas where plenty of eyes will see the ads, but nobody will stand in them to wait for a bus.

Karen Newton, who told us about an almost-useless shelter with only one full-sized glass wall on Berkeley St., says we’re late to the party on “ghost shelters,” which are put up at stops where riders only get off buses.

Kathryn Sabo said two new shelters recently went up on the Esplanade, one at the southwest corner of Princess St. and another at the northwest corner of Sherbourne St.

“In the 28 years I have lived a few steps away (from the Esplanade and Princess), I have seen only one person get on the 121 bus here,” she said, adding that Sherbourne and the Esplanade “is almost exclusively a disembark stop.”

John McCluskey raised a similar point: “why is there a bus stop and a new bus shelter in front of Neil McNeil High School on Victoria Park Ave., south of Kingston Rd., where buses never go?”

Mary Travis suggested we should “have a look at the newly installed bus shelter on the NW corner of Leslie and Lakeshore. People only disembark here. Absolutely useless.”

David Craw may have hit the nail on the head: “I think the answer to why shelters are installed has a lot to do with advertising. Ideally, the number of passengers is looked at but I bet the one at Eastern Ave. and Queen St. was seen as a good place to get lots of views.”

We twice asked the manager of the city’s street furniture division why a shelter recently went up on Eastern, just south of Queen. He conceded that riders “are predominantly disembarking here and not boarding,” but didn’t answer our questions about why a shelter was erected there.

We suspect that seasoned TTC riders know of other high-traffic locations where a shelter that nobody uses to wait for a bus is serving as an advertising billboard.

Meanwhile, riders are standing in the rain at TTC stops that aren’t prime real estate for advertising, and have no shot at ever getting a shelter.

If you know of a “ghost shelter” that is not used by riders but is in a high-traffic area, please send us a note about it. We’ll compile a list of locations, pass it on to the TTC and ask it to tell us if those shelters are needed.

Then we’ll go back to the boss of city street furniture, which decides where shelters go, and ask for an explanation.

Stay tuned.

What’s broken in your neighbourhood? Wherever you are in Greater Toronto, we want to know. Send an email to jlakey@thestar.ca . Report problems and follow us on Twitter @TOStarFixer.