Waiting for the bus in the rain, in the rain
September 5, 2017 4:50 PM   Subscribe

Which lucky city will take the 2017 title of Sorriest Bus Stop in America? Coming out of round one, Tampa's (probably) alligator infested stop defeated Prince George's County, and looks to take on Chapel Hill's freeway bypass framing stops (which thoroughly trounced San Juan's sad strip mall stop).

Other stops onto the second round include two Pennsylvania entries (Pittsburgh and Munhall) and San Diego.

Current standings.

Current voting: Seattle v. Fremont.

2016's winner: Silver Spring, Maryland.

2015's winner: St. Louis, Missouri.

Even with these sorry stops, buses are "the hottest trend in transit".

Some waiting for the bus music:
Satellite High - The bus is late
Violent Femmes - Waiting for the bus
Saba Lou - Waiting for the bus
ZZ Top - Waitin' for the bus
posted by Tentacle of Trust (36 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
This one, which I pass on my way home from work, should certainly be in the running. No sidewalk, not near a crosswalk, between the train tracks and the busiest street in town. (But hey, new cement!)
posted by mudpuppie at 4:57 PM on September 5 [11 favorites]


Before reading this post I thought my city had a unique hatred for bus commuters, since they've been steadily replacing the relatively roomy bus shelters with smaller and smaller ones that are sometimes dug into the ground so they flood in every rain - but no! You Americans have truly stolen the horrible bus stop crown. We've got nothing even close to a reclining bench perched over an alligator filled pond, or those sad little signs planted on the curb of major highways (some on the side of a hill, like in San Diego). You win. I can't even imagine what it must be like to run across a highway every day just to take the bus.
posted by Kevin Street at 5:03 PM on September 5 [3 favorites]


I submit this surprisingly well-serviced stop in the middle of a freeway interchange in Arlington, VA.

The sad part is that, in spite of the absurdity of the placement and complete lack of facilities, it's probably in the top-1% of bus stops in the USA, because buses actually stop there fairly often (several times per hour). Most bus transit in the US (including the DC area) is useless, because it can't keep to a schedule, or provide anything that even remotely approaches frequent or consistent service.
posted by schmod at 5:12 PM on September 5 [2 favorites]


As Jarrett Walker, transit consultant, put it (I'm reassembling tweets into something resembling a paragraph here): "None of these finalists comes close to being America's sorriest bus stop. America's true sorriest bus stop is probably a sign on the edge of a ditch next to 70 mph traffic. There are many such. That Chapel Hill finalist looks luxurious by comparison. You don't see photos of America's truly sorriest bus stops because there is no safe place to take them from. 70mph traffic, no shoulder."
posted by madcaptenor at 5:15 PM on September 5 [11 favorites]


I didn't even bat an eyelash at the two Pittsburgh entries (Munhall is an inner ring suburb of Pittsburgh). I'm not even sure I could limit a list of similar sad bus stops in town to under 20. You want weird, horrifying and baffling transportation infrastructure? Welcome to Pittsburgh, you'll love it here! (I do not think it is a coincidence that my five year old is obsessed with civil engineering and city planning. He's been trying to make sense of this nonsensical town ever since he was big enough to see out a car window.)
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:20 PM on September 5 [11 favorites]


You don't see photos of America's truly sorriest bus stops because there is no safe place to take them from. 70mph traffic, no shoulder.

The 2015 winner and runner-up seem to be exactly those kinds of bus stops, though while the 2015 winner looks to be on the side of a freeway, we're told the speed limit is actually 40 mph. Who knows if drivers obey it?

The runner-up in Cleveland is on something called a "limited-highway" so it's not clear what the speed limit is, but the stop itself is marked only by a tiny circle under the I-71 sign. That said, both roads do have shoulders.
posted by mrmurbles at 5:27 PM on September 5


The road has a posted 45 mph speed limit; however, people treat it like a highway and tend to drive much faster.

I do see the police doing speed enforcement fairly often there, at least
posted by thelonius at 5:29 PM on September 5


I used to live a hop, skip and a jump from that Chapel Hill stop. Closer to a crosswalk, but still at least a quarter mile detour, and then you'd have to wait for the tiny sliver of time you get to cross the 4-lane highway, so I mostly just ran across and prayed.
posted by Jeanne at 5:47 PM on September 5 [3 favorites]


Streetsblog is one of my very favorite sites to visit. They caution us with things like Worst Bus Stop and Most Terrible Destruction of Downtown With Parking Lots and Freeways, but, more importantly, they show what good people are doing to make walking, bicycling, taking public transportation, and - yes, even driving a better thing for this country.
posted by Guy Smiley at 6:03 PM on September 5 [2 favorites]


I used to take pictures of the people smoking in front of the No Smoking signs at our bus stops, but I got tired of the spitting and the threats of violence.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:04 PM on September 5 [4 favorites]


Years ago I helped conduct a survey of users of the Chapel Hill bus system. "Scary-ass unlit bus stops right next to major traffic corridors" was one of the most frequent complaints. Looks like the town government did not take our data under advisement.

It's free, though! That makes up for a multitude of ills.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:40 PM on September 5 [3 favorites]


One of the more fun parts of Pittsburgh's bus system is that the bus signs either have no marking of what route stops there or they're marked for a route that was discontinued five years ago. The stop nearest me had a sticker saying that the 501 Route stopped here for at least six years after they stopped running that line.
posted by octothorpe at 7:09 PM on September 5 [3 favorites]


while the 2015 winner looks to be on the side of a freeway, we're told the speed limit is actually 40 mph. Who knows if drivers obey it?

50 is the usual speed for much of Lindbergh, though it's theoretically 40. A bit before that stop, it's two lanes in either direction, divided, and has those ridiculous Jersey exits where you have to use a U-turn lane on the right in order to make a left turn.

As soon as I saw this thread, I knew that stop was going to be the one.
posted by Foosnark at 7:10 PM on September 5


One of the more fun parts of Pittsburgh's bus system is that the bus signs either have no marking of what route stops there or they're marked for a route that was discontinued five years ago.

Atlanta, too. There's a group called the MARTA Army that adopts bus stops and puts up signs with that information.
posted by madcaptenor at 7:18 PM on September 5 [2 favorites]


Oh Pittsburgh. I'm surprised this gem didn't make the cut. Crosswalk of Death across Bigelow Boulevard on one side, a few meters of crappy sidewalk on each end, and scenic "Harding Way" aka crumbling overgrown lonely-ass steps leading ... up. Here's the other side; charming, yes? Maybe they didn't want to embarrass the car wash, clinging to life on the side of the Hill like a tenacious limpet. It's not their fault.
posted by notquitemaryann at 7:28 PM on September 5 [3 favorites]


Been really happy that stops like this exist when oh say a beater bike disintegrates and the only other option is to hike in traffic. The problem is not so much isolated and annoying but the buses on lines like this are NOT frequent, a twenty minute wait in unpleasant location is ugh, but that 45+ wait without being certain there it's even an active route, yeah.
posted by sammyo at 7:30 PM on September 5


Oh and as a comment points out Fremont is a neighborhood of Seattle so a smidge confusing at first.
posted by sammyo at 7:31 PM on September 5


Oh and as a comment points out Fremont is a neighborhood of Seattle so a smidge confusing at first.

That bus stop is in Fremont, California, near Silicon Valley.
posted by eye of newt at 8:53 PM on September 5


"The stop nearest me had a sticker saying that the 501 Route stopped here for at least six years after they stopped running that line."

This thread has been quite an education on how bad bus systems can really be.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:14 PM on September 5


Cat bus
posted by pracowity at 1:44 AM on September 6 [2 favorites]



Atlanta, too. There's a group called the MARTA Army that adopts bus stops and puts up signs with that information.


Moving Anarchists Rapidly Through Atlanta
posted by thelonius at 1:47 AM on September 6 [2 favorites]


Absolutely not a sentiment I agree with, but if we're doing bus-related music then we have to have Fatima Mansions - Only Losers Take The Bus
posted by jontyjago at 3:55 AM on September 6


Also The Magnificent Seven
wave b-b-bye-bye
posted by thelonius at 5:11 AM on September 6 [2 favorites]


This is one of my favorite bus stops here. I can't imagine trying to use this stop since you have to play Frogger to get across a four lane highway on that pathetic crosswalk to get to that sad shelter carved into the hillside. For added fun, it's on a hill on a bend so that drivers can't see you until the last minute.
posted by octothorpe at 5:21 AM on September 6 [6 favorites]


Hah, there are many stops here in Miami that are at least as bad as any of those, and those are just the ones I've personally visited. To be fair, we also have a decent number of reasonably appointed stops with shelters, and most of the signage is kept up to date regarding which buses stop at a given location.

Here's a good one, next to a railroad track with no sidewalk, and that's in the middle of town!
posted by wierdo at 5:42 AM on September 6


My favorite bus anecdote isn't about a particular station, exactly, but about a line: The X2, in Washington, DC. Essentially, it's very high-ridership line that runs from downtown's white-collar office blocks to lower-income neighborhoods east of the Anacostia river. It *also* runs through a major nightlife/restaurant corridor, H Street Northeast. So, traditionally, the ridership has largely consisted of lower-income Washingtonians (mostly nonwhite) commuting to their jobs, and more affluent younger Washingtonians (disproportionately white) heading out for a night on the town.

Thing is, middle-class folks tend to hate buses. And they *especially* don't like sharing buses with poor people. And the X2 is, in candor, sometimes one of the more ... colorful ... lines. (A woman recently dumped a cup of urine on a bus driver, for instance, and now the drivers' union is demanding police escorts). But developers and restaurateurs on H Street really wanted to encourage affluent folks to come out. What was to be done?

The solution was the DC Streetcar - about two miles of track, mostly along H Street, running from Union Station to the Anacostia River (more or less).

Problem: No one figured out how to charge people to ride the thing, so it ended up being a free system.

Additional problem: Over more than half a decade of planning and construction, no one noticed that the tracks were not only *not* in a dedicated lane for most of the route, but ran right alongside the parking lane. Thus, it's very common for the streetcar to get stuck by a poorly-parked car, and it often requires a tow-truck escort.

Super fun problem: H Street isn't all that wide - which means that, even when it's working properly, the streetcar tends to slow down the X2 buses. And when a car gets stuck, the X2 has to pick its way around, or detour.

Yup. The super-posh streetcar system for shuttling twentysomethings to pub crawls actually made bus service *worse* for working-class people in DC. Hurray!
posted by Mr. Excellent at 7:47 AM on September 6 [5 favorites]


Lay off the Tampa stop for being close to a flooded -- likely alligator sheltering --ditch. The same was true of every Florida bus stop I ever used.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 8:48 AM on September 6


I submit this surprisingly well-serviced stop in the middle of a freeway interchange in Arlington, VA.

Didn't there use to be a gas station right there, primarily serving military members? (The Pentagon is to the right and Pentagon City Mall is less than half a mile behind under an overpass.) Despite this, that area now looks almost post-apocalyptic and it is a really crappy place for a bus stop.
posted by ElleElle at 9:00 AM on September 6


Thing is, middle-class folks tend to hate buses. And they *especially* don't like sharing buses with poor people.

Yeah, I love the idea of streetcars but have come to realize that they're generally a waste of money that could be used to improved bus service. Our system here in Pittsburgh to its credit is working on a Bus Rapid Transit system between the three biggest business districts instead of a streetcar. A subway would be the best solution but there's never going to be money for that.
posted by octothorpe at 9:21 AM on September 6 [3 favorites]


Hey, I climbed those steps in Pittsburgh. Going up from the 10st street bridge to catch the, hmm 67-F maybe ? or 65-something ? Was a heck of a workout. Once I got the monthly pass (no more transfer fees), I stopped doing it. And yeah, getting the bus to slow down and pick me up (it's also going uphill) didn't make for a happy driver.
posted by k5.user at 9:43 AM on September 6


Yup. The super-posh streetcar system for shuttling twentysomethings to pub crawls actually made bus service *worse* for working-class people in DC. Hurray!

Don't forget those times it caught on fire.
posted by Emily's Fist at 9:47 AM on September 6 [1 favorite]


k5.user: "Hey, I climbed those steps in Pittsburgh. Going up from the 10st street bridge to catch the, hmm 67-F maybe ? or 65-something ? Was a heck of a workout. Once I got the monthly pass (no more transfer fees), I stopped doing it. And yeah, getting the bus to slow down and pick me up (it's also going uphill) didn't make for a happy driver."

The amazing thing is that a high percentage of people climbing those stairs are blind drunk Duquesne students coming back from a night on Carson Street. I'm not sure how there aren't more injuries.
posted by octothorpe at 10:05 AM on September 6


Ooh yeah Octothorpe, the one on McKnight is a beaut. I've never seen pedestrians cross there at anything less than a flat-out run.

The Duquesne steps one is also fun for the riders on the bus, if the driver doesn't see someone waiting in time to stop without inducing a nice spot of whiplash (which is usually)

Still, the 65 is a good bus. Avoids Oakland (Pittsburgh's university district) almost entirely and only occasionally breaks down in the middle of the park.
posted by notquitemaryann at 11:20 AM on September 6


Yeah, taking any of the 61's means you're gonna CRAWL (between traffic, and all the students getting on/off)
posted by k5.user at 11:35 AM on September 6 [1 favorite]


What I actually grew to love about PGH's bus system was that it was basically no use to use any sort of predictor for when the bus would actually arrive. I did much better with "Arrive at bus stop 40min before you need to be somewhere, adjust slightly if shorter/longer distance, and see what shows up" ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by nakedmolerats at 12:55 PM on September 6 [1 favorite]


Snide commentary at the fine article to the contrary, I was very pleased to see the curb ramp plus level boarding pad at the Fremont stop.

When I'm stuck navigating a ped-hostile landscape in my power chair, it's thrilling to see there's an escape route I can use.

Our bus system posts schedules at each stop ... in 12pt type inside a plastic holder mounted at 5 feet. The folks who most need the info are those of us without smartphones -- literally little old ladies.
posted by Jesse the K at 8:48 AM on September 7


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