Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Waiting For The Bus

Having lived in the suburbs for pretty much all of my life, I am an avid user of public transportation. If you've read any of my other posts on this subject, you'll know that my penchant for pleasant user experience leaves me feeling more than a little overlooked by the urban planners of my city. Many of the bus facilities are not well designed at all, and some of the design choices seem to have been made without any thought towards how they would actually be used.

The VIVA shelters are an obvious example of this, designed with a theme of uncomfortable angular lines, glass and metal. The benches angle downwards at a 30 degree slope, giving your behind a nice slow slide to the floor, and they are made of metal which feels colder than ice during the winter. The shelters themselves, while very interesting to look at, fail to block wind or rain from coming in. I should not need to point out that blocking out weather is a bus shelter's main purpose.

While many YRT shelters have been recently redesigned (progress!), the choices again make me scratch my head in confusion. They look (and perform) more angular like the VIVA shelters. While mostly made of transparent glass, the obvious choice for bus shelters, they do contain one opaque beam that unfortunately situates itself right in front of the view of where the buses come from. Plainly, if a person were sitting in either of the two bench-seats in the shelter, they would be able to see all around themselves, EXCEPT in the direction of where their bus will come from. I think you can understand the head-scratching behaviour now.

I could go on all day, but this blog is not meant for my ranting (usually). I prefer to direct attention away from the negative and onto the positive. So without further ado, I bring you an amazing look at the bus shelter:

Currently located in Baltimore, this beautiful structure looks like a fine mix of form and function. There are more than two (!) places to sit, two overhead coverings for rain, and it looks more comfortable than any bus shelter I have had the displeasure to waste my time within. Learn more about the origins of the structure here.

Breakdown of all three letters:

B - You can stand in the lower counter, sheltered from the rain. It's probably not the best place for sitting, since it's so low to the ground, but it would do in a pinch. Bonus: as long as you're not a forgetful person, you can leave your briefcase (or baby?) in the top counter while you wait. Personally, I could never do this because that briefcase and/or baby would not be remembered when the bus came.

U - A very comfortable place to sit (probably the best of the three) with a nice view of the sky. No rain protection, but I feel like the high walls on two sides would block out a lot of the city sounds for a peaceful bus-wait. Bonus: It's the perfect impromptu loveseat for a first date. Just look at it! Imagine holding hands with a sweetie all up in that U.

S - Another comfortable sitting place (unfortunately looks like it can only seat one person where strangers rubbing shoulders are concerned). This one also has a covered ceiling for rain, but I wouldn't put any belongings in the top curve. It looks too open and angled to be a good place for that birthday cake or freshly dry-cleaned pantsuit. Bonus: imagine hanging your legs off of the open left side and reclining back into the curve. I may have to change my mind about which one is the comfiest.

In light of the recent redesign of the YRT shelters, I do have to shed some light on the fact that most of the resting places made available within this structure make it impossible to check for an oncoming bus. Therein I would hope that bus drivers would at least slow down as they pass and check for possible riders in and amongst the letterforms.

And as for weatherproofing, I've done my research on that one, too. According to this forum, Baltimore winters are very mild and needn't be worried about, as far as waiting for a bus. I can see that the wind would be pretty well blocked (except for the obvious open side), although there is one missed opportunity here: why not space out the letters to approximately double the current amount of room, and make the connecting bars at the top into full overhead coverings. That way, at least two more people would be able to stand in the shade or be protected from the rain. This is a solution that would bring more usability to riders, while at the same time not deter the visual quality of the shelter itself.

No comments:

Post a Comment