better bus stop

Building a better bus stop

From Paris, here is a great idea to make transit a more appealing option in cities -- make the stop an attraction in itself. The main Paris transit agency, RATP (Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens), has rolled out a "bus stop of the future" that offers a number of features and services while passengers wait for the bus.

In too many cities, the placement of bus stops along the road seems to be an afterthought, with the priority placed on providing a set distance between stops rather than considering the appeal of the stop location or its accessibility. Everyone has probably noticed from time to time a bus stop sign plopped next to a major road, with no sidewalk, bench, shading, or other amenity in sight, and -- to no one's surprise -- equally devoid of people.

RATP aims to attract users with a new kind of bus stop that serves as an attractive, multi-purpose public space. Its key function will still of course be to pick up and drop off passengers, but the bus stop of the future will also provide a place to purchase food and drink, access the internet, buy a transit ticket, and look up maps and information on the city, among other things. The pilot stop, located outside the Gare de Lyon, also includes a bike share station to better connect transit users to the surrounding city.

RATP's bus station design provides an example of how transit agencies can think about their systems and how they can better integrate their services with the surrounding environment. Rather than simply affixing a sign to a slab of concrete, bus stops can and should be designed as something more.

Integrating other services at transit stops can increase their use by recognizing and catering to the appeal of better accessibility, convenience, and functionality. Studies have shown that people view their time spent waiting for transit much more negatively than time spent traveling on transit itself. Making that wait less burdensome with other amenities could attract more people to the option of public transit. You can view more photos of the stop here.

~ Allison Bullock