Federal Infrastructure Funding a Rare Opportunity to Improve the Nation’s Bus Shelters

Transit systems faced with decreasing ridership could accommodate access to the most widely available form of transit by building bus shelters. The federal infrastructure bill provides a big opportunity to do so.

May 9, 2022, 6:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Bus Stop

Frederick Dennstedt / Flickr

An article by Ian Duncan for the Washington Post explains the importance of bus shelters to transit users—rain or shine, a quality bus stop is the key to the transit experience, and it's often those from marginalized communities that deal with the worst facilities while waiting for the bus.

A lack of quality bus shelters is not specific to any one location. According to a Washington Post analysis reported by Duncan, “Less than one-fifth of more than 122,000 bus stops served by 16 of the nation’s largest transit agencies have shelters.” New Jersey Transit, the New York MTA, and the WMATA systems have the biggest disparities in terms of the raw numbers of unsheltered bus stops.

The 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act promised a new wave of funding to bridge the gap, with a potential substantive equity component riding on the potential investment.

“As record levels of federal transit funding begin to flow from last year’s $1 trillion infrastructure package, plans for thousands of new shelters present a test of whether Washington’s promises to focus on racial equity and the environment can quickly translate into benefits for transit users,” writes Duncan. According to the article, $109 billion of that total is expected for transit projects.

“Many large transit agencies are planning for more shelters as they redesign bus networks, aiming to make the most widely available form of transit more appealing. The Department of Transportation is seeking to encourage those efforts, helping cities find ways to tap highway funding to rebuild sidewalks and improve bus access,” adds Duncan.

The source article, linked below, includes specific details about plans to add bus shelters in Boston, New Orleans, Baltimore, and Houston. The city of Los Angeles is also cited as an example of the challenges of improving bus shelters.

“Jessica Meaney, founder of Investing in Place, an advocacy group in Los Angeles, said the city’s sidewalks often don’t comply with requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act, making it difficult to get more shelters installed. A sidewalk must be eight feet wide to accommodate a shelter, according to LA Metro.”

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