Some people have raised questions about Metro’s design choices for RapidRide shelters, including how much seating they have and how much protection they provide from the elements.
We’ve also been asked why, in this time of scarce resources, Metro is spending money to replace perfectly good shelters with new RapidRide ones.
First, let’s address the questions about design elements. Metro chose an open design for RapidRide shelters in response to input from both passengers and Metro bus drivers, who told us increased visibility is important to them for personal security.
Narrow side walls allow the shelters to fit within the public right-of-way and still accommodate pedestrian travel on sidewalks. The open lower side panels make it easier for both bus drivers and passengers to tell from a distance whether the shelter is occupied.
Passengers have told us they sometimes feel uncomfortable entering a shelter that’s already occupied. For this reason, RapidRide shelters have places to stand under cover without entering the area enclosed by the windscreens.
All RapidRide shelters provide at least one seat under cover, plus leaning rails and space for at least one wheelchair. There aren’t as many seats as in regular shelters, but RapidRide buses come more often than regular buses, so wait times are shorter. More seating is provided outside the shelter, so riders have more choices about where to wait, in both good weather and bad.
RapidRide shelters come in several different sizes, designed to meet different ridership demand levels at the various RapidRide stops, and also to respond to a variety of site constraints. The smaller RapidRide shelters provide about one-third more roof cover than the standard Metro shelters they replace. The largest RapidRide shelters, which are being installed at the more heavily used stops or stations, provide almost three times more cover than the smallest ones.
In response to the financial question, RapidRide shelters and other capital elements of the RapidRide program are mostly grant-funded. Metro has been very successful in nationwide competitions for funding because its bus rapid transit program is robust and includes the elements that funding agencies look for when making their awards—including improved passenger waiting areas.
As for the old Metro shelters that we remove from RapidRide stops, rest assured that they’re not going to waste. We refurbish them and reuse them elsewhere in the system.