die belebende Bedenkung

No end of shelter trouble

with 3 comments

Centro Trueform open bus shelter in Moor Street, Birmingham, 2012

Centro Trueform open bus shelter in Moor Street, Birmingham, with ‘end panels’ providing minimal weather protection for passengers

On 18 October 2012, the topic of Centro‘s bus shelters was brought up by listeners phoning Adrian Goldberg’s BBC WM local radio show. A caller named Valerie berated the new Birmingham city centre shelters‘ lack of weather protection and perch ‘seating’, which was especially unsuitable for elderly people.

Chris Perry, head of ‘integrated services’ (?) at Centro, was also a contributor to the programme. He said that £14 million was being spent on the Birmingham city centre interchange project’s “upgrading” of bus shelters and highways, and

  • “a significant amount of ergonomic design work” has been done to make sure that the new shelters worked for the whole city;
  • fully enclosed shelters didn’t work very well for people getting off a bus, and encouraged queue-jumping by people waiting to board;
  • in narrow city streets, fitting bus shelters with perches instead of seats would work better for everybody;
  • buses are very frequent, so people shouldn’t need to wait for long anyway.

Mr Perry also stated that work on the shelters had not yet been “finalised”. In some locations, 800-millimetre wide roof panels were being replaced with 1200-millimetre ones, “so that passengers will get more shelter […] There are end panels in place, and we are installing advertising panels at the back of some of the shelters as well”. At places where there are “concentrations of elderly people”, such as the markets, gull-wing style shelters would be installed, with perches on one side, and flat seating on the other.

Centro two-sided open shelter in Birmingham Priory Queensway, 2012

With bad bus shelters not restricted to Birmingham city centre, contributors described Mr Perry’s comments as “nonsense” and “flannel”. Caller ‘Les’ mentioned the poor bus shelter arrangements at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Northfield, while ‘Pete’ pointed out that overloading of bus stops encouraged queue-jumping.

In the evenings, on Sundays, and at times of traffic disruption (a regular occurrence in Birmingham), the wait for a bus can be quite long. So Mr Perry’s comments on not-having-to-wait-very-long-so-why-worry, are inappropriate, and probably not those of a regular bus user. (On a previous phone-in, he had stated that he was unaware of the long-standing problems with Centro’s real time bus information system.)

The Integrated Transport Authority should commission an independent investigation of the whole Birmingham city centre Midland Metro works and bus re-routeing programme. They should also ensure that the Passenger Transport Executive

  • releases its ergonomic or passenger research (or whatever it is called), to the public
  • explains how the bus ‘perch’ arrangement is ergonomic
  • explains how having waiting passengers face away from the street (on the far side of gull-wing dual-sided shelters) is ergonomic
  • explains how the new street furniture makes movement around the city easier
  • demonstrates how the new shelter arrangement prevents queue-jumping
  • justifies why stops on wide pavements (such as Colmore Row and Moor Street) have been fitted with such useless shelters
  • details the costs of the shelter installations, and reworkings at certain sites with gull-wings and/or 1200 millimetre roof glazing, etc.
Newly-installed Centro clutter in Birmingham Carrs Lane, 2012

The wide totem and tombstone street clutter installed by Centro in narrow Birmingham streets makes pedestrian circulation worse

Written by beleben

October 21, 2012 at 2:52 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Surely the bus shelters should be at the kerb-side and with the glazed panel between the motor traffic and the waiting passengers, in this way ensuring that those waiting for another service are spared the wash of any water or dust thrown up as traffic passes/the busses pull away.

    I do worry greatly about those ‘tombstone’ totems, they are aligned to make them most saleable to advertisers who assume that the message is best displayed to passing motorised traffic, and thus the units block off footway width and provide handy concealment for any ne’er do well to lay ready to pounce out late at night. In some locations (noted particularly at the Bow Roundabout in Stratford E London) a 6-sheet poster board close to the kerb line appeared to mask any cyclists beyond as the road curved away to the left – the location of one of the fatal crashes, where a left turning truck ran down a straight-ahead cyclist.

    In the location pictured they present a pedestrian crossing the road with poor sighting of oncoming traffic, and equally a very limited view of any pedestrian about to step off the kerb. I wonder if these actually meet the visibility splay angles set out in the Road Design standards? Has anyone tested/measured installations? Does each panel get checked or is there a blanket consent for these? I recall one authority where bus shelters had to be dug up and re-sited because the original installation under a blanket consent without individual site detail scrutiny, failed to provide sufficient width to pass around them, and another where the advertising panels restricted sightlines on the cycle path passing behind with a number of crashes reported.

    Good design means good design for pedestrian traffic too – working to deliver efficient flows taking direct routes in a carefully planned way.

    Dave H

    October 21, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    • Good points. I never even thought of the conformance-with-road-design-standards angle. Given the volume of pedestrians in the city centre, I’d just have thought it common sense to maintain clear sightlines wherever possible, minimise the amount of street clutter, and provide shelters that, um, actually provide shelter. Siting information panels at 90 degrees, close to the kerb, is daft, and the introduction of (yet more) advertising panels, also at 90 degrees, completely bizarre. Birmingham city is choc-a-bloc with Morris columns, advertising hoardings, and whatnot, already.

      Given that the whole exercise has cost £14 million, the amount of advertising revenue from these panels is going to be peanuts. Most likely, ‘secret peanuts’, because I can’t see them being keen on revealing what the panel revenues actually are.


      October 21, 2012 at 7:06 pm

  2. […] particularly affected by the July 2012 re-routeing of numerous bus services, bus stop overloading, substandard shelters, and botched passenger […]

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