New bus shelters are so sharp it hurts (UPDATED)

UPDATE (Nov. 25): The Gazette’s Andy Riga reports the STM says the average price for these shelters is actually lower than what they reported earlier. Also see below my photos of this shelter at night.

A prototype of the new STM bus shelter at René-Lévesque Blvd. and Jeanne-Mance St.

On Monday, the Société de transport de Montréal made a big splash of this rectangular glass box, inviting the media to take pictures and witness a dramatic unveiling. This is the model of a new style of bus shelter that the STM is planning to replicate hundreds of times.

Michel Labrecque, the STM’s chairman, said the biggest thing about it is the look, and how the aesthetic design of the shelter will draw more transit users in. People want to wait in something “sharp”, he said, something that looks more like the future than the stone age.

The shelters will cost between $14,000 and $16,000 about $12,000 each, not including the development cost, which will bring the total price for 400 shelters to $14 million. Even then, it’s significantly more than the price of existing shelters.

After installing three prototypes (the other two will come next month), the STM will seek input from users before making the order for the rest.

Not wanting to pass judgment before I saw it myself, I decided to pass by the shelter on the day after the big announcement, when all the TV cameras, PR people and giant tarps had long gone (and when the weather wasn’t so rainy).

Users line up next to the "totem pole" near the shelter

The first thing I noticed was how the shelter was empty. Everyone was waiting for the bus at the stop more than 10 feet away.

Nobody's using the shelter while waiting for the bus

I stood nearby observing the behaviour of transit users waiting for one of ten buses that stop here at the beginning of the afternoon rush hour. I stayed for a little more than half an hour, watching as about 50-60 people waited for and boarded buses.

In that time, only one person entered the bus shelter. Everyone else waited at the “totem pole” – and because the natural tendency of bus lineups in Montreal is for them to start at the flag and expand upstream, the line moved away from the shelter instead of toward it.

Now, the weather didn’t exactly encourage people to seek shelter. It wasn’t raining, it wasn’t particularly cold or windy, and nobody had to wait that long for their bus.

But for something Labrecque considers so “sharp”, this shelter seemed to prompt very few people to want to actually use it. I heard plenty of comments about the design from people chatting with their friends and colleagues (mostly positive), but I don’t think the purpose of this thing is to be looked at.

I also noticed that the shelter seemed pretty small. About the same size as its predecessor. There’s another version of the design that doubles the interior space, but I think it would have made sense to install it here.

Shelter features

Here’s what you’ll find in this new shelter.

At the entrance to the shelter, an orange strip indicates ... something

Like many shelters downtown, the entrance to this one is on the side opposite where the bus stops. I imagine this was done for safety reasons – to prevent people from stepping out into the street and accidentally getting hit by a bus. But it forces people to walk away from a bus when it approaches. This makes it more likely the driver will think the person isn’t interested in getting on and drive right by the stop. It would make more sense to back the shelter a bit further from the curb and put the entrance on the side facing the bus.

Like in previous shelters, a network map is attached to the glass wall

The map is glued to the wall instead of being in a glass enclosure

If you touch the map, you’ll find it has a rough texture to it, probably a result of the anti-graffiti coating they’ve given it. It’s also glued to the glass, while the previous design had a paper map behind a glass casing. This will probably make it more difficult for maps to disappear from the shelter, but it will also make it more difficult to replace the map when it gets updated.

Near the roof inside, a list of bus routes that stop here

A similar list outside

The shelter has a list of the routes that stop here – separate from the totem pole which replaces the old bus stop sign. The design of the list of buses on the shelter seems to suggest a hard limit of nine routes per stop. In order to fit more of these coloured boxes, a second row would need to be added or the boxes would need to be made smaller. Of course, there are very few stops in the city with as many bus routes passing through, but they exist. And it doesn’t seem crazy to think they might add a 10th to this stop.

Motion sensor in a half-sphere under the ceiling

Lights in the shelter are to be controlled by motion sensor, so they don’t waste energy unnecessarily. That makes sense, but it’s worth pointing out that the previous shelters were lit by having large backlit ads, something the ad company would not want dimmed just because nobody’s in the shelter.

The bench seats two

It’s unfortunate to see that despite making changes to improve the design of the shelter, the bench is still basically the same. The seat (the brown part) is made of some plastic-like material that remains comfortable even in the cold. The metallic parts appear to be aluminum, which conducts heat very easily and will be cold as hell during winter.

It’s pretty rare that I see people use these benches. Maybe there’s a psychological reason, maybe they’re too small or people think they’re too dirty. Whatever it is, this design doesn’t seem to be making it more inviting.

A solar panel on the roof provides power

To emphasize how green the STM is, this shelter has a solar panel on top which provides power that’s used to light it at night. The STM says some will be solar-powered and others connected to the electrical grid.

The totem pole

A "totem pole" shows a colour-coded list of buses that stop here

The second part of this new design is the “totem pole”, which replaces the old bus stop sign. It also has schedules for each bus attached to it.

In the case of the stop at René-Lévesque and Jeanne-Mance, this pole is inexplicably about 10 feet away from the shelter.

The first thing that comes to mind when looking at this is to wonder what the colours mean.

As a transit buff, I know that dark blue is for regular routes, green is for express routes, and light blue is for special routes (the 515 is a tourist bus that goes to the old port, and the 747 is the airport express bus). There’s also black for night buses and gold for seniors’ buses. But there’s no way to discover this at the stop. So the colour backgrounds become this secret code that only the elite few can decypher.

The detoured 15 Ste. Catherine bus stops here

Another disadvantage to this new design becomes apparent when I notice two things. First of all, the 15 bus is stopping here, even though it’s not listed on the totem pole or the shelter. It’s stopping here as part of a (long-term) detour because of construction on Ste. Catherine Street.

The schedule for the 80 bus shows it doesn't stop here

Secondly, the 80 bus is listed as having a stop here, but it doesn’t.

The route for the 80 bus was changed because of all the construction around the Quartier des Spectacles to make a temporary detour permanent. Instead of taking Jeanne-Mance, the bus now takes St. Laurent until Ontario and then heads back to the Place des Arts metro. But because of construction at St. Laurent and Ste. Catherine, the bus has been detoured back onto its original route – Jeanne-Mance now being open to through traffic.

Under the old design, the STM would slip a specially-designed detour flag on top of the bus stop sign, indicating which buses stop there and which have been detoured. Under the new design, people have the impression that the 80 bus stops here unless they think to look at the schedule.

A typical schedule and route map, this one for the 535 bus (that doesn't actually stop here)

The 535 schedule, meanwhile, gives no indication that this stop has been moved.

I don’t know if the STM is developing a small condom to put over the flags of bus routes that have detours, or if it’ll just paste something over its schedule, but the potential for confusion seems to be larger.

A list below the schedules gives the text line and other information on how to get bus schedules electronically

The verdict

Perhaps I shouldn’t be too hard on it because it is a prototype and those things always have unforeseen issues. It also does look very nice.

But aside from motion-sensor lighting, which isn’t exactly a top priority right now, there’s little here you can’t find in existing shelters at half the price.

Image consultants, which I can only imagine the STM has too many of right now, always want to change things so people will pay attention to what’s new. But all that’s changed here is the look.

There are serious improvements that can be made to bus shelters to make them more attractive to riders. It starts with being heated in the winter, then having schedules at a glance inside the shelter (which isn’t the case here), and a comfortable place to sit and wait (which also doesn’t exist on the tiny bench).

The improvements here are bells and whistles at best and at worst a waste of money on fulfilling some industrial designer’s wet dream.

If you asked bus users or potential bus users would make them more likely to use the bus, I doubt “make the bus stop sign more sharp” would rank high.

Blue and yellow lines!

The fact that nobody wants to use this shelter right now should be clear evidence that this design is ill thought out.

UPDATE (Nov. 11): La Presse’s Lysiane Gagnon goes way over the top in her criticism, calling these “des abribus de millionnaires” – as if the super rich would use an unheated shelter to wait for a bus in the middle of winter. Take that with the same grain of salt as her suggestion that nobody uses bike paths in Montreal, or that Bixi is a financial disaster.

UPDATE (Nov. 25): Curious about how this shelter works at night, I revisited it a few days later after dark.

The new shelter at night: Neat, but not very bright

What struck me was how dark and uninviting it was. The picture above is brighter than how the scene actually appeared (I needed a pretty long exposure).

Recessed lights provide minimal brightness

There are lights in the ceiling of the shelter (supposedly they’re motion-controlled, but I didn’t see them turn off or on while I was there). But compared to the previous CBS Outdoor shelters with the domed roof and giant backlit ad, it felt kind of dark.

You’ll note that the part of the shelter that lists information on the buses that stop here and the bus stop code is unlit.

The totem pole is completely unlit

The problem is worse when it comes to the nearby totem pole that lists the buses that stop here and their schedules below. It’s completely unlit, which not only makes it seem like it’s inactive after dark, but also makes it hard to read the schedules.

On the side facing the sidewalk, the schedule is impossible to read because it's so dark

I’m not exaggerating how dark it is here. Even with my pretty good night vision, I couldn’t read the schedule on this side.

The side facing the street is barely readable thanks to the street light

I had better luck on the other side, but even then it wasn’t easy. Someone with poor eyesight would struggle with this.

60 thoughts on “New bus shelters are so sharp it hurts (UPDATED)

  1. Vincent Stephen-Ong

    other things that the totem pole appears to be missing that current signage includes:
    – the AUTO-BUS number and stop codes for each bus line
    – indication of which metro each bus line stops at

    i do use both of these pieces of information so it’s annoying to see them gone.

    even if the design succeeded in drawing more people to the shelter, what would be the point? why would one want to have more people stand in it? the only reason for the shelter is, as the name indicates, FOR SHELTER. when it is necessary (rain, snow, cold) they quickly fill up. so the only USEFUL upgrade, an increase in size, was passed on, in favour of attempting to attract people to stay in the shelter for no reason when the weather doesn’t call for it. brilliant.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      other things that the totem pole appears to be missing that current signage includes:
      – the AUTO-BUS number and stop codes for each bus line
      – indication of which metro each bus line stops at

      This information is provided at eye level. The maps indicate which metro stations the buses stop at, and the stop codes (and numbers to dial and text them to) are at the bottom. Of course, this only works if every line at every stop has a map and schedule, which I imagine will be the goal.

      Reply
      1. Richard

        So if there are several people trying to look at the numbers, I’d have to squeeze past them to see the one I want, rather than simply look up at the bus stop sign as I do now.. hmm..

        Reply
  2. Marc

    Shouldn’t the 747 flag be green as it is an express route? On the current signs it’s green. Now, it’s the light blue of the epic fail 515; are they assuming just tourists will use the 747?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Shouldn’t the 747 flag be green as it is an express route? On the current signs it’s green.

      Yeah, the STM has been playing with colours and it doesn’t always make sense. On the network maps, the 747 route is the only one in blue.

      They’re probably trying to highlight that it’s a different kind of route because it has its own fare structure (and special buses), but they’ve also chosen for the same colour a route that has none of these criteria.

      Reply
      1. JohnF

        Aren’t these the colour codes that are in use on the current signs as well? They may be confusing and “reserved for the transit elite”, but they aren’t new.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          Aren’t these the colour codes that are in use on the current signs as well? They may be confusing and “reserved for the transit elite”, but they aren’t new.

          This is true, though the 747 has gone from being green to being light blue. The difference is that there’s no explanation next to it saying something is a Metrobus, express bus, reserved-lane bus, rush-hour-only bus or airport shuttle.

          It’s also worth pointing out that that “10 minutes max” system the STM came up with recently had as a major component putting up little icons on the bus stop signs. Now those icons have moved to the schedules and the list of routes on the bus shelter.

          Reply
  3. Joe Clark

    The yellow band is a tactile threshold marker that in principle is cane-detectable.

    You haven’t talked about the angled roof shooting ice, slush, snow, and rain off its edge right at unsuspecting passersby.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      The yellow band is a tactile threshold marker that in principle is cane-detectable.

      That makes sense, I guess. Maybe my imagination fails me but I just don’t envision how this would be used.

      Reply
      1. karl

        For the sensitive band. You have to know Japan where anywhere in the subway and sometimes streets there are tactile reminders. It helps people with visual deficiencies to go around with their walking stick.

        Example in the subway in Japan
        http://la-grange.net/2008/07/28/1420-couloir-metro

        The issue with this one in Montreal is that it becomes useless in winter if covered by ice and snow, but at least useful for summer, spring and autumn.

        Reply
    2. Fagstein Post author

      You haven’t talked about the angled roof shooting ice, slush, snow, and rain off its edge right at unsuspecting passersby.

      I don’t know how many unsuspecting passersby will be standing next to the low edge of the roof. Then again, there’s a large enough overhang that some people might stand there if the shelter is full to stay dry.

      Reply
  4. Craig Silverman

    Nice overview. The placement of the bus stop is puzzling. But I think it’s too early to blame design flaws for why those people weren’t using the shelter. After all, it’s not that cold out. I mainly use the shelter when it’s really cold, raining, or very windy. It doesn’t appear as though your test day fit any of those criteria. But maybe that’s just me…

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      I think it’s too early to blame design flaws for why those people weren’t using the shelter. After all, it’s not that cold out. I mainly use the shelter when it’s really cold, raining, or very windy. It doesn’t appear as though your test day fit any of those criteria.

      Absolutely. But when it’s cold, dark, raining and windy, who’s going to sit there and admire the aesthetics of this thing?

      Reply
  5. emdx

    It is retarded.

    Beyond retarded.

    The old (current) bus stop at least tell at a glance to which Métro (and train) station the bus is going (but they ought to list terminii, too, such as Lafleur or Fairview).

    The little flags will be harder to change than just printing yet another route number on a stop when a route is changed. With collective conventions being what they are, it is quite doubtful that the required crews (I think it will take at least 4 different trades to do it; lessee: mechanic – for the screws, painter – to handle the little metal flag , electrician – to make sure no one touches the electrical system, plumber – just in case, you’re never too careful) will be able to change the stops as fast as they can be changed now.

    And lastly, lastly, the most glaring flaw of them all.

    The solar panel. It lies flat on the flat roof.

    Now, what does Montréal has for four months a year, precisely when the days are shorter, so the light will need to be on longer?

    Snow.

    And what does snow do on a flat roof?

    It accumulates. So the solar panel will be blocked.

    So the STM will need to hire yet another trade, “solar panel clearers” in order to make sure the shelters will get lit at night (and with an electrician watching to make sure the solar panel is not damaged).

    That bus stop design is good for Brasilia, Mindañao, Miami or Dakar. Not Mauryal.

    * * *

    My father is a designer, such a good designer that he is RCA (so when he teaches, he’s paid the PhD rate, the highest), so I grew up with design. I wet my pants whenever I see an old Olivetti office machine (they don’t make them anymore!). I also worked 20 years in design companies (including one who does museums for the Smithsonian). So I can guess that I know what design is, even though I don’t have any formal education in that domain.

    Well, the designer who shat that design is just a dope (probably a totally clueless stranger hired to compensate for the inferiority complex we have — especially amongst the big shots of big governmental organizations, especially those headed by liberals, or held under close supervision by liberals), and the STM is even more of a dope for accepting it.

    If the designer had any clue, he would have made a design with an 42 degree angled solar panel that could be aimed due south, and make it conspiciously obvious to scream “HEY! I AM GREEN! I AM SOLAR!!!”.

    Dopes.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      The solar panel. It lies flat on the flat roof.

      Actually, the roof is angled, and the panel along with it. It’s not the steepest angle in the world, but it’s not flat either.

      Reply
  6. Marc-O

    Good analysis there Steve!

    I does look good to me, except for the bench, but I feel too that the same problems will remain there: small bench and small space doesn’t make it really appealing. I guess, like the old ones, they will quickly fill up with random garbage the wind and users bring inside. I like the new totem pole, with the bus numbers and colors, but I feel the ‘STM’ panel, on the opposite side, is big and pretty plain-looking (un-sharp).

    I’ve also noticed there is no publicity on this one, which I assume will not be the case for long, or for the whole set of shelters. It’s probably gonna replace the ‘window’ at the end, but knowing the friendly relation between the STM and the ad companies, they’ll find a way to make it completely over-the-top ugly and invasive. They have a full Milk-ad shelter on the corner of St-Denis/Rosemont, with a large milk carton root and some ugly “sympathetic” sock puppet on top.

    I think the main problem is designing a bus stop, with an obvious place for the waiting line that uses the shelter when the weather is bad, and not the shelter when the weather is nice. A shelter with two “doors” would work, but protect much less against the wind and rain. Actual doors would raise the cost, and possibly be broken easily

    They could however, put the opening towards the street, but the whole shelter farther away, so it wouldn’t be dangerous. They could also align the shelter with the totem pole. This could however, make the sidewalk harder to navigate for anyone not waiting the bus.

    Even at the Henri-Bourassa terminus, where the shelters are better designed (at least for space), I’ve found that most people still will wait outside for their bus, even in the cold (The ‘outside’ there still has a roof however)

    On your last picture, you’ll also see that the bus itself seems to ignore the shelter (rightfully so since everyone is at the totem pole). Will the bus stop farther, at the shelter, if people are actually using it? What if people are in the shelter AND there is also a line at the totem? But this is probably not the best stop to wonder about that since nine buses are supposed to use that place.

    Reply
    1. Emilee

      Where I live on the West Island, there are quite a few bus shelters (the old ones of course) that are just as far away from the current poles. Even on rainy or snowy days, even when everyone’s in the shelter, even if there’s a little old lady waiting on the bench, the drivers always seem to make it a point to stop at the pole – not the shelter. Makes no sense that they inconvenience everyone and force them to walk to the pole but even more annoying that they haven’t fixed this. If busses are going to stop at the pole, at least put the shelter in the direction that people line up, not past the pole.

      At crowded bus stops like the ones downtown, people wont bother losing a place in line (and consequently have no chance at a seat) to wait in the shelter unless there’s some serious weather going on outside. Interesting that you mentioned the little shelter (I’m assuming an overhang?) at Henri-Bourassa. Too bad they didn’t put one on these new shelters. If they moved the shelter before the pole and added one, then people would be able to wait in line AND many would still be sheltered a little by the overhang.

      Reply
  7. DH

    If these don’t workout as bus shelters they can be written off as public art, people visiting and people bored in their cars can have something “sharp” to stare at.

    If they were smart they would have built a shelter next to the pole so people have to line up in the shelter or something like that.

    Reply
  8. Cat

    This was an excellent post, thank you. Not only did it make me laugh and roll my eyes, but it was also very informative about the new shelters, which in my opinion just look like they’ll end up costing the city more in broken glass. I agree 100% that the bench is still too small and uninviting. I’m also boggled as to why the totem pole would be so bloody far away from the shelter. That’s just dumb. I can’t believe the STM is spending that much money to pretty much put the same thing back on the street but with a different look. Maybe improve the bus routes and schedules rather than just give us less than exciting places to avoid standing while outside?

    Reply
  9. wkh

    The reason people go in shelters is to avoid rain/snow and or to obtain warmth. Why would they go in, unless they have problems standing, in absence of cold, rain, or snow? Also, even in the cold many won’t go in because if you go in you instantly become last person on the bus, possibly missing a seat altogether at some more crowded routes. Finally, they inspire a feeling of claustrophobia. Yes, even in glass. Finally, if I were a “let’s break shit!” Beavis and Butthead type, my mouth would be watering at these things.

    I think these should be filed under the same heading as the new Concordia Clip Art Logo.

    Reply
  10. Amanda

    Thanks for the write-up – great observations and photos (as usual)!

    Reading the article, it occured to me that it could be quite revealing to hear the STM’s or the designers’ perspectives. If, for example, the mandate was to do a cosmetic-only facelift, I’d say these guys knocked it out of the park. (Judging from how similar the footprints are, you can pretty much assume this was the case – you don’t think designers would have wanted to play with those parameters a little?) ;-)

    That said, if you think about it, the primary function of these boxes might really be to serve as decoration for the city – if you consider the number of people who interact with them only visually in passing, it trumps by a massive margin those who actually use them when waiting for a bus (and even then, probably for a few minutes at a time). Not saying this necessarily justifies poorly meeting the needs of that second more important constituency, but given a certain budget, it might not be so bad to invest more in eye-candy rather than deploying something hideously ugly but more utilitarian.

    The real question, to me, is: why are we stuck with the original footprint? I suspect the designers could have gone further in balancing both needs (aesthetic and functional) if given more leeway.

    Reply
    1. Carniala

      They could have taken the whole sidewalk too and just forget that people need to walk by or the city needs to clear the snow on the sidewalk in winter, it is not the designers job or even their decision to decide on the size of the shelter, but they get a specific list of requirements and they have to work with them.
      As usual everyone jumps at the negative, just look at the previous shelters and their usage. Some people like me prefer to wait outside, even in winter, some changes had been made and yes there are some adjustments to be made in some situations, but the first time you use something there is a learning curve, then, it second nature. I prefer to have some nice things around me, than butt ugly things that make me angry and depressed all day, because taking pride in your environment is essential. you have to test something to make it work. It’s normal.

      Reply
      1. Fagstein Post author

        the first time you use something there is a learning curve

        For a bus shelter? If you need to train people on how to use a bus shelter, that’s pretty bad design.

        Reply
  11. Alex

    Many cities across Canada have heaters built into their bus shelter’s. In the winter, it would be nice to have these heaters for when it’s -20 outside….

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Many cities across Canada have heaters built into their bus shelter’s

      Not just across Canada. There are STM and AMT terminals on the island that offer heated bus shelters, like the Côte Vertu and Henri-Bourassa metro stations.

      Reply
      1. emdx

        Please do not lump Côte-Vertu and Henri-Bourassa bus terminals together.

        Côte-Vertu is the epitome of the demonstration that the AMT is a bunch of incompetent nincompoops. The shelters there are certainly not heated, and are positionned in a most inconvenient way to guarantee that if you wait in the shelter, you **will not** have a seat in the bus.

        Henri-Bourassa (The STM terminal, south of Henri-Bourassa, not to be confused with the old STL terminus, north of Henri-Bourassa — who remembers the old, old STL terminus that was **IN THE MIDDLE** of Henri-Bourassa???), on the other hand, is heated, yes, and the exits are right next to the bus stops, so you will wait inside for your bus and have your seat. It’s the closest thing the STM has to the Longueuil and Centre-ville terminii of the South Shore.

        Now, why the difference?

        Well, Côte-Vertu is situated in a (former) suburb, where the politicians there do not give a shit about public transit, whereas when the Henri-Bourassa terminus was built, the city councillor in charge used to be a former president of Transport-2000, and, knowing the guy for more than 30 years, he **DOES** give a hoot about transit, hence the very good bus terminal.

        And no, it does not speaks good for the STM either, since it clearly demonstrates that the STM does not care about it’s users’ comfort unless they have someone rabidly breathing down their necks (which was the case about the Henri-Bourassa terminus).

        Reply
  12. Fassero

    The rumble strip is based on the newer concept known as “urban braille” and it allows the visually impaired (and wheelchair-bound) a warning that they are about to step into a more dangerous area – either with more traffic (pedestrial or vehicular) or more difficult surface. A number of cities use them along the ends of subway platforms and I’ve started to even see towns use them at crossing intersections. I’ll also presume the entrance is where it is to prevent people who want to use the shelter from being sprayed with water and/or snow from the road (especially from the plows which go flying by typically.)

    I don’t even want to get into the design more than ask the question about why Montreal taxpayers are even footing the bill for this. In Toronto a couple of years ago, they started overhauling the bus shelters (and benches, public toilets, etc.). Instead of just relying on the public transit authority to waste money on some industrial design wanker, they just publicly tendered the whole thing and there was a whole public process where something like three or four different bidders displayed their designs (at their own cost) and one was chosen (Astral actually). And not only were they responsible for the design and construction but also the maintenance and repair. In return, the city gets a share of the advertising revenue (with a guaranteed minimum no less). I think the same process is going on in Ottawa. I recall reading about New York, San Francisco, and Chicago doing the same (actually San Francisco’s is pretty neat because the shelters also incorporate WiFi and digital displays with GPS highlights on the phsyical location of the buses.)

    If somebody can re-march out Tremblay and his newly-discovered lapdog Peter Trent and ask them to explain why its better to pass the cost for this pile of scrap metal onto vehicle registration fees instead of taking an opportunity to actually generate recurring revenue for the STM (or city), it would be greatly appreciated.

    By the way, what’s the over/under for the date of the first accident involving some “really nice guy” teenager(s) having the big mishap when the shelter is used as a glorified skateboard ramp?

    Reply
  13. AlexH

    My plates on my car will go up $10 a year so that transit users can have heated bus shelters. It’s getting a little stupid here. Does the transit system NEED this stuff, or is this just another wasteful project, a nightmare for maintenance that will require millions of dollars each year to maintain, as the vandals get in there and really go to town? Let’s not even discuss the number of homeless people who will be happily moving into their new, heated homes away from home.

    AC on the buses was too expensive, but heat at bus stops isn’t?

    the people running the STM are clueless, and the rest of us are overtaxed to pay for the stupidities.

    Reply
      1. AlexH

        Then I would have to say my car plate when up $10 and these idiots couldn’t even manage heating for that price. I think that is even worse.

        That and having a shelter where the entrance to the shelter isn’t on the side of the bus stop. That always makes them useful.

        Reply
  14. Tv Dude

    Adding A/C to the metro and buses is too expensive, but wasting all this money on bus shelters makes good financial sense? Well of course, people will start leaving their cars at home in order to try out the “sharp” looking bus shelters.

    They just spend our tax money like it comes out of an endless pit. Of course, this is the reason we are being taxed to death.

    Reply
  15. Steve Hatton

    I also couldn’t help but notice that the 535 is listed as an Express Bus instead of as an R-Bus. A minor detail but still a factual error nonetheless.

    Aside from that, all I have to say to the STM is Bravo! Best use of tax payer money on a marketing gimmick… er… I mean bus shelter ever!

    Reply
  16. Emilee

    People want something sharp to wait in? Really? What’s “sharp” for me is having buses that show up when they’re supposed to, at regular, sensible intervals. Time to get our priorities in check… hm?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Somebody commented on my blog that the gap under the glass walls is going to admit snow, ice and wind in season, and danged if I don’t agree.

      The current Viacom shelters also have this gap. This was done intentionally, probably to keep garbage from piling up in the corners, to facilitate cleaning and to aerate the bottom so it doesn’t develop that urine smell. There’s some wind, but it’s at foot level where it won’t bother too many people. If there’s ice or snow that gets in, it’s only by a few inches, and these shelters should be in areas that are properly plowed in any case.

      Reply
      1. AlexH

        The old “rock bottom” shelters always had a pretty horrible smell to them, with no ventilation except the entrance. Garbage (and homeless people) would accumulate in the corners.

        Reply
      2. Niki Vassiadis

        If there’s ice or snow that gets in, it’s only by a few inches, and these shelters should be in areas that are properly plowed in any case.

        Wait a minute – “properly plowed in any case” – are you living in the same city that we are, Steve?

        Reply
  17. Pointer

    Two comments on the new shelters:
    1. There appear to be no provisions for having electronic displays show when the next bus will arrive. We have the 21st century now and it is imaginable that in a few years (i.e. before the next shelter redesign) even the STM will be able to track its buses. European cities have been doing it for years.
    2. With the solar panel lying flat on a pretty much even level roof, it will be covered by snow and ice in winter and not deliver any meaningful amount of electricity. The designer appears to have not taken Montreal’s climate into account.

    Reply
  18. Bill

    14 million dollars?!?!? This is what people who own cars are going to fund? Instead of hiring image consultants to make these pretty cosmetic changes, why don’t they hire experts to improve the scheduling of the buses.

    I myself don’t take the bus, but what I do see all the time is either people waiting in insanely long lines for a bus to come every 20 minutes during rush hours, or the buses still coming every 20 minutes in the middle of the night. There has to be something wrong with the schedules when I see 3 buses (same route) within 10 blocks of each other, at 8:00pm and only one passenger on total for the three buses. Can you say wasted money?

    Reply
    1. emdx

      The STM already has bus scheduling experts. And they know their job; after all, they are highly paid!

      They are the ones who schedule the buses to leave 2-3 minutes before the commuter train arrives (or arrive 2-3 minutes after the train leaves), and who schedule buses to run at 13, 17, 21, 24 or 38 minutes intervals to make sure they never arrive at stops at the same number of minutes past the hour.

      Maybe they should put Google ads on their schedules website, because you keep having to look at the schedule to know when the next bus is due.

      Reply
  19. William Raillant-Clark

    Why not share your remarks on the STM’s Facebook page? The person who’s running it clearly has no idea what they’re doing, and offers incredibly gratuitous and unprofessional responses (beware the lobby of employees and trainspotters who watch it though!) Who knows, maybe they’ll start rethinking nonsense promotional schemes such as these “sharp” bus shelters.

    Reply
  20. Beeg

    Presumably the city isn’t keen on heated bus shelters for the homeless.

    Anyway, these shelters look OK but the drawbacks discussed here are pretty obvious and it looks like another missed transit opportunity. Here’s what NYC is doing to make the bus king again: http://nymag.com/news/features/67027/ Lots of good ideas to copy there…

    Reply
  21. m

    Absolutely great overview Steve. You know, I can make-do with such improvements to the STM…but that’s when it’s absolutlely urgently needed! I don’t think transit users gives a rats *** about these “sharp” modern shelters -just give us a bus that comes frequently, ontime when it’s -20. Yes, these new shelters are good for future implements of their “GPS” schedules and what not, but why mess with something that ain’t broke and costing us more in taxes to pay in the future. Why couldn’t they keep the old shelters, retrofit them and integrate these new “tech” onto it when times call for it. What a waste of money.

    To add, the heaters don’t work that well at Cote-Vertu – (some not on at all). Even with it on, it’s still damn cold ‘cuz the doors keep opening and the breeze lingers and I’m Standing under it. I see so many wasted money on the STM… couple of years ago, redecorating and retrofitting the interiors of the MR73 to give the allure of daylight or “energy saving tactics” changing all the lights, extra space leading to losing some seating space (but I”m ok for losing the seats for the wheelchair bound) and going pole crazy!! So what if the inside of the MR73 looked like 1980’s Macdonalds and wear and tearing a bit, I want my metro to come frequently- so use that money on engineers and parts for the mechanics of the metrocars, not interior design!

    Plus with all this water leaking in almost all the metro stations and mold I see – use $$$ to fix or to continue to repair it, especially “sauna molded stinky Guy-Concordia!” instead of new shelters!!

    just off topic but Steve you really have a good eye (and camera) – I’ve never seen anyone document and capture something mundane as a bus shelter so exquistely!

    Reply
  22. Sy

    Awesome overview on STM’s unpractical ideas once again! (like the 515…seriously stm?!) I actually love the new design… but not for MTL’s weather and it’s placement. Isn’t there some way they could implement a sliding glass door of some sort to keep the wind and cold from freezing us to death! It’ll still be cold but at least it’ll be a tad warmer, just a thought.

    On a side note, why did the STM buy such cheap speakers/intercoms in the metro? Are these speakers so cheap ,thus may be throwing out low db levels, that there’s a need for one every 3-4 feet and some are like 2 feet apart! In a design sense, it made the platforms messy with all those speakers and wires (but I digress, the new ones are 100 times better then the old unintelligiable system) Still, my little Aiwa stereo system could probably provide more audible punch. STM should have used money on better quality intercoms/speakers and forgo with these new shelters.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Isn’t there some way they could implement a sliding glass door of some sort to keep the wind and cold from freezing us to death!

      A door would break too easily. The shelters aren’t designed to protect from the cold, they’re designed to protect from the wind and the rain/snow.

      Are these speakers so cheap ,thus may be throwing out low db levels, that there’s a need for one every 3-4 feet and some are like 2 feet apart!

      This is actually by design. The old system had fewer, louder speakers, but there’s so much echo in the metro that the message becomes unintelligible. Having speakers that are closer and more numerous makes them clearer and better understood.

      Reply
  23. the Dude

    What I would like to understand is why put the same generic bus shelter at every stop.
    New design or old design.
    Think of the Vendôme 105 bus stop, the Pie-IX metro station 139 North bus stop and many more where you (almost) always have more people waiting for the bus than the shelter could hold.
    You can see it on the above pictures too. The shelter holds 6-8 people tops and there’s 12 or more people waiting in line…
    Why not put at busy stops dual entrances on wider and longer shelters so that the entire line can wait in it to board the bus, think the old 505 bus shelters.
    Shelters like that strategically placed around the city would be very welcomed.

    Reply
  24. Tim

    For what it’s worth, I like the totem pole. Seems like it’s clear and would be visible from a distance. I would just replace the new stm chevrons with with a bus pictogram. And the colours need to be reschemed; I don’t think it means jack to 98% of users.

    Bus shelter has some nice ideas, but is definitely not a spending priority.

    And is it just me, or this the “wrong” corner to pilot a new bus shelter? No bus shelter would meet that stop’s needs during rush hour.

    Reply
  25. Fassero

    Did anybody read Andy Riga’s article? Now it’s really getting ridiculous. Why on EARTH would ATM commission and design the shelters themselves and THEN send out tender for bidders to build them?!?!?! Isn’t that the cart before the horse? Why wouldn’t they simply tender the entire project INCLUDING design?!!?!?

    Steve – regarding how poorly lit the shelter is at night, my guess would be that any ad outfit picking up the contract will at least be investing in the lighting necessary to at least make the map more visible (since I assume the ad would be posted on the other side of it and I’m more than sure that winner won’t want their ads in darkness, that’s for sure.)

    I guess the totem poles will eventually feature signs with light-reflective paint which will probably do the job. Downside is, by the time ATM figures it out, they’ll flush another million or so down the drain to fix it that riders and drivers will pay for. Unreal.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Why on EARTH would [STM] commission and design the shelters themselves and THEN send out tender for bidders to build them?

      Because prototype design and mass construction are two separate stages? The STM doesn’t exactly have a shelter-building factory.

      Reply
      1. Fassero

        Sorry. Wrote that sentence pretty sloppy. I meant to ask why they would go through the expense of having someone design a shelter for them and then tender bids to build the design they spent on. Made more sense to tender the whole thing and see what the ad companies come up with. Piles of North American cities have, or are going, this route.

        Reply
  26. Pingback: STM takes down its totem pole – Fagstein

  27. Lucy

    While I find the new shelter to be visually appealing, I wish they would address the more important issues first. Maybe add air conditioning to Guy-Concordia or fix what ever is causing that station to be so smoldering hot. I think heated bus stops are a good idea and not just at a bus terminal that is at close proximity to a metro anyway. There are warmer cities that have several heated shelters, I think we are the ones that need it, especially tonight. Maybe just have them at the shelters where the bus only frequents every thirty minutes or more. Especially in areas where there are several busses that stop at an intersection (like 10th avenue and provost in Lachine) It sucks to try to make a connection and you just missed it or the bus is not on schedule. Maybe just have one heated shelter per specific intersections where a lot of busses connect.

    The biggest fail of a bus shelter is the very last 123 stop on elmhurst. What were they thinking? They have a shelter at the last stop yet the driver refuses anyone to board the bus there, and you have to dash across and down the street and wait for whenever the bus comes around. I do not think there is a stop at the terminal.

    Reply
  28. Nora Hague

    Excellent review of a prototype bus shelter. Full of valid comments. Presumably the STM is reading such comments and will modify the design and the placement. I suggest you send your review to them directly, in case they miss it.
    I guess the door faces away from the road so that the wall of snow built up by the road snow ploughs in winter won’t totally block the door and spill into the space inside. That function will be performed by the sidewalk snow ploughs.
    Rumour has it that solar panels work even if under a coating of snow, but I bet they were thinking of a gentile coating of snow, not 3 feet of solid ice and snow.
    Please find and review the other prototypes when they appear; your critique is very useful.

    Reply
  29. Pingback: Quebecor’s new STM bus shelter: cool, slick, but is it useful? – Fagstein

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