Monday, 11 July 2016

Bus Shelters and Strategic Thinking

Press Release

The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) is proposing installing six new bus shelters around the Island. We hope that by creating a better environment at bus stops, more people will use the buses.

We want to know what you think about plans for new bus shelters at the following sites:

  • St Catherine's Breakwater
  • Rozel, Brecque du Sud
  • Grasett Park, Victoria Road (opposite New Era)
  • Don Farm, northbound outside Communicare
  • Belle Vue, northbound
  • Mermaid Tavern, northbound

My Comment: 

I’ve long been very pleased at the increased number of bus shelters, a roll-out that stalled under Deputy Guy de Faye but was picked up by his successors, Mike Jackson, Kevin Lewis and Eddie Noel.

After I sent in an email praising the proposed extra bus shelters, I received a communication back which explains very well the strategic thinking in the department. I sought and was given permission to make this public as part of my "mission to explain" blogging. It is reprinted below.

One issue which clearly is of importance is funding. Although the idea of advertising was initially proposed by Simon Crowcroft, it was knocked back by the then Committee President, Deputy Alastair Layzell. (This was done purely on aesthetical grounds; there is no indication that Deputy Layzell ever used the bus much if at all.) But perhaps it is time for a rethink.

Colorado Springs in the USA has been doing that, but is well aware of problems of intrusive displays. In a report “Collaborating for Compliance: Transit System Partners with Private Sector to Build Shelters”, Debbie Warhola explains the thinking behind this public / private partnership.

“Officials paired a decades-old goal of adding bus shelters to several hundred of the city's key bus stops with a relatively new method of advertising-three-sided, illuminated advertising kiosks. Then they partnered with a private, local advertising firm to fit the pieces together.”

“Three dioramic panels will feature advertising on two panels and a public service announcement-such as information about bus routes or the transit system-on the third. National and local advertisers will be sought out, but ads for tobacco, liquor, local political issues and sexually related materials will be banned.”

In order to engage in dialogue with any protest, the City Council mandated as well as advertising being aesthetically pleasing, that the company dealing with bus shelter advertising had to notify neighbours nearest the proposed shelter sites.

Neighbours who opposed the idea could appeal to the city department of transportation, and then to the city council, which makes the final decision. But this meant that the protest was limited to the local neighbourhood, rather than allowing protests from those who didn’t in fact live near or use the stops, which is much more a common sense solution.

I have no idea if the Department of Infrastructure would contemplate that, but I think it would be a good way forward to continue bus shelters even within these times of austere budgetary restraint.

Personal Communication from the Department of Infrastructure

Thank you for taking the time to comment. I am pleased that you are supportive of the initiative and can confirm that design work is being carried out in connection with a number of other potential shelter sites. 

It is as I am sure you will appreciate a slow process with limited budget and staff resources but the Minister aspires to equipping a total of 12 locations this year with more to come in 2017 depending on funding being secured (the planning process does assist with this in the sense that larger developments are often obliged to make available some modest contributions for the purposes of reinvesting in sustainable transport infrastructure).

We have arguably already tackled most of the bus stops which offered the greatest benefit for the least cost, in other words the “quick wins” with lots of existing passenger demand and relatively simple installation on sufficiently wide pavements in public ownership, so we are getting to the point where the remaining busier stops such as at Beaumont require an increasingly large expenditure to provide the shelter, e.g. if land acquisition is necessary, with the alternative easy option being the quieter stops with generous adjacent space (such as Bonne Nuit Bay) benefiting instead – the latter at least tending to ensure that reasonable geographical spread is achieved rather than always favouring the more built-up southern parishes.

On a slightly different note it is recognised that in many areas there is no safe waiting area at all and this aspect does need to be afforded a higher priority going forward, though bringing with it some further opportunities for future shelter installations where possible to justify.

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