L.A. Bus Stops Improved by D.I.Y. Additions
An anonymous artist is building and installing benches at bus stops throughout Los Angeles Eastside neighborhoods. These are stops where there is little else than a pole in the dirt with a sign at the stop, as is evident from Carolina A. Miranda’s description of one:
Then there is the complete lack of amenities: no shelter, no landscaping — and no place to sit. Unless you count the fragments of tarmac that someone has thoughtfully arranged into an improvised stool at the base of a commercial billboard nearby.
The artist experienced the challenges of traveling by bus a couple years ago when he had knee problems and had to wait at a stop with no bench. About a year ago, he started installing the wooden benches by attaching them to the solitary poles, and he has put in over a dozen so far.
Bus stop benches are part of a bureaucratic maze that involves the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority but also a host of other agencies and entities, including local governments, the Los Angeles City Council, the Department of Public Works, and private street-furniture contractors. The result is that getting something like a simple bench approved and installed is a slow-moving logistical nightmare.
Miranda says that the rogue benches are being used. “Some of his benches have become part of the fabric of the city — sat on and rained on, captured on Google Street View and even vandalized. Scrawled in tidy handwriting on one bench was, ‘i love it, thank you,’ punctuated by a small heart.”
Others, unfortunately, have disappeared or been destroyed, reports Miranda:
Not five days after I watched the artist install his bench at Valley and Soto — the second one he has installed there — it was gone. Was it the city? Was it a random dude with a crowbar? Is there someone with a deep-seated enmity toward public seating reporting them as garbage to 311?
Still, she reports that he plans to continue to leave benches in these otherwise overlooked voids of the Los Angeles transit network.