When a transit shelter is more of an advertising platform than a refuge for people waiting for the bus, an adjustment of priorities is required.
Karen Newton emailed to say she was thrilled when a new shelter went up on the west side of Berkeley St., just south of Front St., allowing her some comfort while waiting for the bus on the TTC’s 121A route.
“That happiness lasted about a day, when I saw they had completed the shelter with the small bench facing backwards and two billboards blocking two thirds of the view,” she said.
“I had been looking forward to sitting while waiting for the 121 bus, which is not a frequent service route.
“But you cannot sit unless you have eyes in the back of your head or have a lookout person with you, or maybe invest in special glasses that let you see behind you.
“And if you do have a lookout person, they have to situate themselves carefully so their view is not blocked by the two billboards.
“The shelter needs to be turned around, so that people sitting can see the bus coming. You’ve got about 10 seconds from when the bus comes into view until it gets to the stop.”
We went there and found a three-sided shelter with most of the main wall covered by two panels with ads on the outer side, which run from roof to sidewalk and are positioned to maximize exposure to passing traffic.
A raised ridge on the back of the bench requires occupants to turn their backs to the glass in between the ads, making it hard to see buses turning south from Front onto Berkeley, a distance of about 50 metres.
The oncoming bus can be seen through the narrow side panel, but with buses coming every 15 minutes or so, anyone seated on the bench is in for a stiff neck from craning their head to watch for it.
It’s hard not to conclude that this style of shelter is basically a billboard with a roof, two narrow side slats and a bench that would be better if it was turned around.
STATUS: Ryan Lanyon, who’s in charge of city street furniture, sent us an email saying: “Ensuring the safety and visibility of transit riders is of utmost importance to us. We’re looking into options to improve the situation while still providing a shelter for TTC riders waiting for the bus. I’ll follow-up with you once we’ve determined the best way to proceed.” OK, but if the safety and visibility of riders is the highest priority, this shelter should never have gone up in the first place.
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