I am recently back from college and looking at the city with fresh eyes, I was astonished at the new bus benches. In fact, I’m pretty sure I doubled over with laughter when I laid my eyes on my first one. Yep, you guessed it, this is yet another Letter to the Editor about possibly the biggest mistake carbon footprint-conscious Santa Monica has ever made…ever.
Let me preface this by saying that I appreciate the attempt made to sprinkle sleek style and a Design Within Reach-like essence onto the streets of our beach-side town but this reach exceeds its grasp. Why? Keep reading.
1. Absolutely no coverage from the elements is provided. If it’s raining, good luck. Hope you brought an umbrella, pal. If it’s a scorcher you’re on your own and you better hope you’re prepared with SPF 50 because if not, you may develop a skin cancer before the bus even gets there.
2. Two is company. Three’s a crowd. And usually there are more than two people waiting for the bus at a time. Hello? Rush hour. And if you want to sit down, you are basically required to get on very intimate terms with a complete stranger. Plus, if you are disabled or elderly, the seats are low to the ground and difficult to get up from considering they lack handles and other supports. Not to mention, the seats are incredibly small. I mean let’s face it, you have to be a rail to sit down.
3. On that same end, the seats are backless. If you are coming off a long day of work and you’ve been on your feet all day, you’d probably like to rest your overworked, overtired back. Sorry. You’re out of luck.
The whole idea of amping up the bus stop is to encourage people to ditch the car and take public transport. But with these new bus benches it’s not getting any easier being green, or in this case, blue. The whole design is almost like a punishment for riding the bus, not an incentive. And I fear that this new bus stop is just making more people want to put a down payment on a car, fast.
A recent article in the Santa Monica Mirror entitled “Big Blue Bus to modify new bus stops,” assures avid bus riders that adjustments are to be made to the new configuration, but the modifications don’t sound all that promising. With “changes” on the way, it is not unnatural to ask how much this whole project is going to cost us when all is said and done. So? How much? We want answers!
Another question worth asking is why the designers behind the project did not first test out one or two new bus stops and then get riders to weigh in on their bus-waiting experience. It’s tragic that so many complaints have been made after so much money has been spent and so many hours of labor have gone into these bus benches only for them to have to undergo modification.
But no matter how much was spent and how much energy was exerted, one thing is for sure, something needs to be done to make the twelve-minute wait for the bus easier. After all, the riders aren’t waiting for Godot, they’re just waiting for the Big Blue.