Editor: A recent letter-writer complained about the seemingly high cost of bus stations in Arlington, and said the sole purpose of a bus stop is to provide temporary shelter from the elements.
He’s right that, if we treat a bus station like it’s an umbrella, the cost seems unreasonably high. However, we need to stop thinking about the main purpose of a bus station as a shelter if we want more people to use buses as public transportation.
New York City is an example of an upgraded network of bus stations, where shelter is no longer part of the equation. It’s all about real-time information, and getting you there faster and more reliably.
Bus stations advertise an easy-to-use app with updated schedules and real-time arrival information. More and more bus stations are equipped with electric signage that tells you the exact time the next bus (and buses after that) will arrive. Bus stations have kiosks for ticketing before you enter the bus. This saves a huge amount of time – no more passengers fumbling with change or transit cards – so passengers can get on their way. There are dedicated bus lanes crosstown, which means travel is twice as fast as a taxi. The bus stops have clear signage about stops along each route.
Bus users like me want easy-to-access, clear, up-to-date information, not shelter from the weather. For that, you can buy your own umbrella.
Joan FitzGerald, Arlington