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Lack of Lighting and Shelter Influencing Bus Ridership i...

Lack of Lighting and Shelter Influencing Bus Ridership in Twin Cities Metro Area

In the Twin Cities of Minnesota, alternative forms of transportation have been on the rise for many years. Minneapolis is even recognized as having the most bicycle users of any city in the United States. Because of this, it is critical that public transportation systems be designed and run as efficiently and safely as possible. This

A student waits near a bus stop on the University of Minnesota campus in the frigid temperatures of winter.

In the Twin Cities of Minnesota, alternative forms of transportation have been on the rise for many years. Minneapolis is even recognized as having the most bicycle users of any city in the United States. Because of this, it is critical that public transportation systems be designed and run as efficiently and safely as possible. This not only includes the modes of transit themselves – such as buses, light rail, heavy rail, etc. – but also the processes prior to boarding and after exiting a transit vehicle.

Many people refuse to use or are uncomfortable with using public transit due to a lack of safety. Though much of this is just a negative perception, there is something to be said about improving certain aspects of the existing bus stops throughout the Minneapolis and St. Paul metro area. This will not only keep the existing users happy, it will also have a positive influence on potential new users.

One of the ways these structures could be improved is to eliminate the trash that surrounds bus shelters. Even in downtown Minneapolis, which is generally considered to be above average in terms of its cleanliness, the issue of trash remains. Alleviating this would not only be an added bonus for the environment, it would also create a generally more welcoming space. Something this small can make an incredible difference on people’s perceptions of public transportation.

A city bus pulls up to a group of awaiting riders in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Improving the lighting in shelters during nighttime hours would be another way to increase the feeling of security and comfort of transit users. In many cases, the lighting is not ideal, and in the lesser-used shelters of certain neighborhoods, the lighting can be downright bad or completely nonexistent. This can be a safety hazard, it can make bus stops more difficult to see or find, and it creates an unwelcoming environment.

When talking about the Twin Cities, we must also remember that for much of the year, temperatures can dip to well below a comfortable level. While most shelters do not include any heating resources, some less frequented bus stops stand without any protective screenings. If the push for public transit is to continue, this must change. Having lived in the Twin Cities for most of my life, I can personally testify that in the middle of winter, the cold temperatures and strong winds can be downright brutal, to the point where someone waiting at an unprotected bus stop could be in physical danger.

If the Twin Cities are to continue working towards a sustainable metro area that sees public transit dominate other forms of transportation, they will need to properly invest in creating better bus stops. They have done a good job of creating comfortable, welcoming, and – most importantly – safe environments for the light rail train stops, however the bus shelters are left with something to be desired.

What would you recommend be done to improve bus stops in cold climates? How are the bus stop amenities in your city's? Do you feel safe waiting at bus stops in your community? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments area below.

Credits: Images by Wyatt Prosch. Data linked to sources.

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