Thursday, 8 July 2010
Nice new bus shelters have appeared along the Bath Road corridor. This one's at Arnos Vale, outside Burger King.
It's turned around so that waiting passengers now face the road, not the fast food outlet (a mixed blessing). It boasts a wider roof than the old one, and, to add a bit of class, the seat has armrests. Most would agree that it's an improvement, along with a few other things along the same corridor.
But, inescapably, it's just a bus stop. Truth is, it's still part of one of the negative elements of public transport - the Wait. Don't let anyone call it a step change in the public transport consumer offer.
It begs the question, though, of what would provide that change: if you have to wait for your transport, what are the ideals to make it tolerable, even enjoyable?
For a start, INFORMATION. You need to know when it's coming before you make any decisions about how to spend the time. Go for a cuppa, or a beer, or some last minute shopping? You need to know, in real time. And if it's an unfamiliar journey, it helps to know fares and what the alternative routes are.
Then there's SHELTER. Bus stops might be getting prettier, but they're still not nice places to be on a dark wet night when the wind's blowing and the traffic's splashing past. The ideal would be something more enclosed, well-lit, and with some oversight or SECURITY.
A mobile phone and entertainment you may well already have, but you may not want to flaunt the fancier stuff. Not here, anyway. So let's look for economies of size to provide the oversight, safety and shelter. Where there's a complex of bus stops, why not provide all this in a WAITING ROOM; the real time info will make sure there's time to get to the actual stop as the bus approaches.
In the biggest waiting rooms, more services might be viable - even commercially viable - on site. A cafe. A shop. An enquiry point. Toilets. Vending machines. Ticket machines. Local information. (Note: I was in Oxford yesterday, not a city that I know well. Very little information at the station, poor signage, no bus maps. And there were too many crocodiles. Harrumph.)
Where's all this leading?
Clearly we won't see all of this at your average Bath Road stop (though the Park and Ride could be an exception). But it has potential in the Centre, at Broadmead, and, above all, at this place where the building's just waiting to provide all this and lots more.