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First Look: New Downtown Bus Shelters

Walker Evans Walker Evans First Look: New Downtown Bus SheltersPhotos by Walker Evans.
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The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) has begun work on replacing 13 high-volume bus shelters on High Street through Downtown. The aluminum-and-glass design is a modern update, designed by students from CCAD.

Several of the southbound shelters should be finished and functional in time for the May 5th launch of the new Downtown Circulator route. Other northbound shelters will be finished later in May or June.

The photos below feature the station under construction between Nationwide and Chestnut on the west-side of High Street.

For ongoing discussion about COTA updates, CLICK HERE to visit our Messgaeboard.

Photos by Walker Evans.





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  • Stereopticon

    I hate to pour cold water on these snappy photos, but choosing a silver finish for a transit shelter is always a mistake. These are going to get tagged with graffiti six ways to Sunday, so I hope COTA’s budgeted generously for cleaning crews and touch-up paint. And the 1′ gap at the bottom of the walls is an invitation to the freezing winter winds the midwest is known for. Six inches is the most that’s needed for blow-through.

    That being said, the leaner benches are a good, functional addition, and the roof has nice lines. All in all, not the worst shelters I’ve ever seen.

  • columbusmike

    I do believe the finish is a graffiti resistant finish.

    I wonder if the digital displays are going to be installed as well?

    • Stereopticon

      In my experience there is a lot of “graffiti resistant” snake oil out there being sold. Even with coatings that are effective, the protection generally comes with ease of removal; there’s still the gap time between when I decide during my wait to whip out my Sharpie and add “For a good time call ___” and when the agency sends out a cleaner. The rest of the ridership has to spend that time staring at my little message to the world.

      This is why I think transit agencies should make gloss black the default spec for all shelters; it follows the KISS principle by making most casual tags illegible. And black works fine aesthetically with most urban designs.

      • Achekov

        Your hard core taggers carry black and silver sharpies, and the real pros carry a white correction pen, as well.

        • Stereopticon

          The gap is definitely for power washing, for letting trash on the ground blow away naturally with a stiff wind, and to a small degree for pressure equalization in the case of a really high wind. It only needs a couple inches for any of these functions, though, and the difference for passengers is a winter wind on your feet vs. a winter wind from the knees down. I’d argue that the size of the gap shown is a classic case of over-design for convenience sake.

          • Stereopticon

            As far as the graffiti pros go, you’re absolutely right. They have the tools with them to mark any surface color, and/or are planning their tags in advance. My point is that a lot of bus shelter graffiti doesn’t get perpetrated by pros; it gets put there by ordinary riders or passersby who are bored and see an easy opportunity. And all of these people are carrying pens and markers that are black, not white or silver. How run down a shelter looks at any given time has more to do with the density of tagging than whether any tags are present – in most city environments there are going to be at least a few. So from my perspective, black shelters still make the best sense as a passive anti-graffiti measure.

  • Miracle

    It looks like there are 2 side by side panels on the front of these shelters. Could that be where the real-time tracking could be?

  • Mykiaem

    We just learned last week from our property management company that a new shelter is going up directly in front of our place of business at 131 N.High Street at Long. Big Surprise to us when we saw the contruction at our front door. I feel it will be a hinderance to our public gallery space and wish COTA, the City or SIDS would have contacted our mental health agency or our property management company a year ago before deciding to place this new bus stop and shelter directly in front of our place of business’ front door entrance. It could now potentially be a hang out for many people not riding the bus including our mental health clients we serve. Will our gallery patrons feel intimated by all this activity at the bus stop and not patronize our gallery because it’s an obstacle to get into now? It also could block our public sculpture Recovery that is prominently displayed on the sidewalk next to our front door entrance. I am diappointed by this and wonder why they selected our place of business front door entrance for the new shelter rather than rennovated the shelter stop that is only 20 feet north on High Street same side? These are my thoughts and not the thoughts of the agency I work for.

    • “It could now potentially be a hang out for many people not riding the bus…”

      I’ve never really noticed that being a major problem at any bus stop. Most people waiting at bus shelters are simply waiting on the bus because they are trying to go somewhere. They’re not loiterers.

  • Graybeak

    those 20 feet going to make all the difference in the world?


  • Mykiaem

    I guess we’ll see…

  • mrsgeedeck

    I would have liked to see some heater lamps similar to those used on the El, but not a bad design overall. A definite improvement of the current stations.

    • MHJ

      Agreed on the heater lamps! It gets quite cold in Columbus, and to both lack that amenity AND have that gap at the bottom of the shelter so that cold wind can blow in just says to me that whoever oversaw the process of shelter re-design either didn’t solicit public input or didn’t put too much stock in it. Although these designs are pretty, I don’t think they will serve actual bus riders any better than the old ones, and might actually be worse.

      • Achekov

        I’ve observed them power washing the shelters, and it occurred to me that the gap at the bottom is useful for being able to blow stuff out with the power washer, whether that was intentional, i don’t know /shrug.

  • heresthecasey

    It looks like the bench is facing away from the street? That’s not very convenient when waiting and looking to see if your bus will be arriving soon.

  • Itanimulli

    Yeah, that bench looks wrong. I wonder if the whole shelter is one piece and they haven’t bolted it down yet. The whole thing looks backwards.

  • JPowell

    I would rather have seen shelters similar to those at the State House that are black with vintage detailing. Not only that, they would have matched the new street lights going up. These new ones are just a bit too sterile for my taste and too contrasting to the street lights and other street furniture.

  • WildWildWestSide

    Another example of #columbusfail The shelters are being installed backwards, made of easy tag/scratch/etched materials, overpriced monstrosities.

    Spend spend spend money that doesn’t exist on projects that don’t help the community. At $1,000,000 a pop that money could goto alot more constructive things.

    • Stereopticon

      Whoa, not so fast! I think calling #columbusfail is over the top in this case. The interior seating looks to have been configured so that people can watch for their arrival on a digital display board, then stand and look the other way as their bus arrives, perhaps moving outside to the leaner benches. That’s decent design.

      My own critiques are meant to underline what I see as design best practices, but the reality is that these shelters are things of beauty compared to the ugly, tired little shelter that you can see across the street in the last photo. Let’s not get so lost in the details that we cry foul on the whole project.

      And where is your $1,000,000 per installation figure coming from?

    • I believe these shelters are $1 million total for all of them. Not $1 million a pop. They’re designed to last a while too, so take the lifetime use into consideration with the pricetag.

      • Posole

        IIRC the last shelter replacements were installed around 2000. So, 14-15 years give or take.

        • That’s assuming the old shelters are being trashed and not repurposed to another location within the system.

  • Stereopticon

    That would make sense. 77k per installation isn’t cheap, but it’s not out of the ordinary for high-capacity shelters.

  • Posole

    The design submissions all showed shelters that could be entered from the back as well as the front. I can’t tell from these pictures whether that feature was implemented. I thought it was a good idea.

    And the bench does look backwards. You want to be against the back wall facing the road.

  • gmcsoccer

    seen a couple comments about digital schedule boards, but no confirm? anyone have a beat on that?

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