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Bus Shelters. That's it.

That's the whole idea.

Photo of Jeffrey Herbstman
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Bus riders seek a mobility solution that makes them feel safe, comfortable, reliably gets them to their destination on time. By adding more bus shelters along bus routes, we can improve the rider’s experience greatly and make mobility more accessible for residents, commuters, and visitors alike.

Currently, there are only 3 shelters within the Impact Area, and only one of those shelters are within a half mile of Michigan Central Station. There are only 7 bus benches available within the Impact Area. A recent study by Wayne State Student, Sarosh Irani, found that amenities are poorly located for usage on high volume routes and stops. This study showed that reallocation of these shelters could provide shelters for thousands more riders.

This project seeks to not only provide shelters for the thousands of riders who go without on their daily bus rides, but by providing additional bus shelters, it will even induce additional ridership, as has been shown in a University of Utah study

While the shelters cannot improve reliability or on-time performance of buses, they provide essential assistance to riders while they wait. The shelters greatly increase comfort and make the wait seem shorter. A University of Minnesota study found that when riders waited at a stop without a shelter or bench for 10 minutes, they reported that it felt like 21 minutes of waiting. When provided a shelter, they reported 62% less time spent waiting for a bus arrival. 

Shelters don’t just affect comfort, they can affect how safe people feel, as well. In the same study, women perceived wait times in unsafe areas to be twice as long when waiting without a shelter. This feeling of prolonged wait can strongly affect the desire to use bus transportation. Transportation researcher, Alon Levy suggests that additions of shelters at stops could induce 15-30% ridership increases from the reduction in perceived wait alone. 

The utilitarian shelter

While it is easy to envision a custom designed shelter with a wide array of fancy frills from an espresso bar to internet kiosks, the reality is that all of the above are costly to build and costly to maintain. Exposed to the punishing Midwest weather and sometimes equally punishing usage by Detroit residents, the number one priority of the shelters must be a resilient structure that can be easily maintained and repaired. The goal of these shelters is to maximize ease of transportation across the Impact Area and the broader city network, by focusing on building more shelters, not more expensive shelters, we can broaden access and increase ridership.

While the shelters should generally incorporate the National Association of City Trasportation Officials principles, a few features should be highlighted. The shelters should be transparent, allowing drivers to see riders waiting, and riders to observe the surroundings. They should provide a full route map and schedule to allow trip planning. Finally, the shelters must be fully accessible to wheelchairs, walkers, and strollers. 

These shelters hit almost all of the opportunity areas: they provide more access to information at the stops, they make riding the bus more inviting, and increase the visibility of where the bus stops, making it seem less daunting to try to take the bus!

Great Bus stops are possible! Let’s build more of them in Detroit!

How will your solution benefit residents, workers, or visitors in the Michigan Central Station impact area? (1,000 characters)

Imagine someone with limited mobility wanted to take the bus from Michigan Central Station to Ford's building on Michigan Ave. First, they'd have to walk from the building over to Michigan Ave, because there are no stops within Roosevelt Park. When they arrived at the bus stop (see image), they would find a sign indicating the route name and number, and a small, difficult to decipher sign with timing. They would then have to wait, exposed to the elements, with no place to sit, until the bus arrived. After taking the bus along Michigan Ave, they would arrive at the stop nearby Ford's building. They would see there's no shelter or bench there, either. This experience can be improved!

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Ready to Scale - you have completed and expanded your pilot and are seeing adoption of your solution by your intended user

Insights from previous testing (500 characters)

Have you ever stood in the hot sun waiting for a bus? Have you ever stood in the rain waiting for a bus? Have you ever stood in the cold wind waiting for a bus? Bus shelters give you shade. Bus shelters keep the rain off. Bus shelters protect you from the wind. They make riding the bus better. Ask anyone.

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

It's me. Sometimes I ride the bus. Sometimes I ride my bicycle. Sometimes I drive. I would take the bus more if there were bus shelters.

Size of your team or organization

  • I am submitting as an individual

Are you submitting as a student team?

  • No

Are you submitting as a team from the Impact Area?

  • No

Funding Request

  • $250,000

Rough Budget (500 characters)

A bus shelter can be purchased and built for roughly $6,000. At this cost, 41 shelters across the city can be built with the requested funding. The goal would be to use simple, pre-designed shelters to maximize the number that can be constructed and minimize maintenance and repair costs. That's a lot of shelters for bus riders!

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

I would reach out to the City's mobility team to partner with them around code requirements for the construction and implementation of bus shelters. We would find the stops with high ridership that are the best candidates for shelter usage. I would then use Challenge funds to purchase and install shelters.

Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)

Success would be measured by 1) Number of shelters constructed 2) Use of shelters by riders 3) Increase in ridership along shelter routes

Sustainability Plan (500 characters)

The increased ridership will bring some revenue to support the shelter maintenance. Local businesses can purchase advertising space on the shelters to defray costs as well. Full ownership of the shelters would be transferred to the city at the end of the pilot and they would incorporate the shelters into their regular maintenance.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Thomas Mitchell

fantastic idea. will these shelters have heads up display far as locations?

Photo of Jeffrey Herbstman

Thomas Mitchell Maybe! It will depend on how much cost it adds and whether DDOT will open their data for real-time arrival info.

Photo of Thomas Mitchell

Ok cool. I hope everything works out and good luck.

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