|Two bus patrons at Peninsula Towne Center|
|Bus stop schedule board in Hampton|
At bus stops you expect to see a bus schedule, that will tell you when the next bus is coming. Not so in Hampton. Instead, their schedules tell you how often the buses are coming and their hours of operation. Which can be useful, but only if you know exactly how long ago the last bus was. Without that information, the schedule is completely useless. And in places where buses only operate every 30 minutes to an hour, people would often rather just leave than have to wait a half hour or more to see if they can catch the next bus.
You can, of course, check the next bus on your phone. Bus routes can be found at gohrt.com and you can find an entire detailed travel itinerary by using the public transportation option on Google Maps. You can even call H.R.T. to find the next bus at your stop (make sure you know the intersection). However, without a phone, all of that becomes impossible. Phones with internet capabilities are infamous for being battery drainers, and even regular phones can die at inopportune moments. This can leave you stranded mid-trip with no information. Nowadays, people often don't wear watches and keep time using their phones, so even if you knew the bus times from memory, you still wouldn't know how how soon the next bus is once your phone dies.
PowerBut how will you power all these functions? Bus shelters can be very expensive upwards of $3000 per individual shelter. Including these additional but necessary functions of visibility, from schedules, notification systems, and lighting all need electricity to power them. In a move to make these stops more self-sufficient, I am proposing that they be solar powered. We have seen this implemented on a wide scale in San Francisco, with their city-wide shelters coming with solar panels on top.
Architects and designers from all over the world have come up with innovative concepts, some experimenting with novel forms, others trying to stuff as much tech into it as possible (looking at you, MIT), and then others going for the straight whimsical (looking at you, Japan). But none of these solutions are truly trying to deal with these problems from the three areas of shelter, visibility, and power all combined in one design. And that is what I aim to do with my thesis.
My next post will deal with specific bus stops and solutions from all over, trying to see their successes and failures.