GUEST COMMENTARY--I am in agreement with Bianca Barragan’s August 29, 2019, CityWatch piece, “6,000 LA Bus Stops Leave Riders in Rain and Boiling Heat.” I ride buses and trains, and in City Watch I have written articles on the need for more covered bus shelters.
My main ire has been specifically directed towards, and remains, the open-to-the-elements bus stops on Santa Monica Boulevard between the 405 Freeway and Century City. (Photo above: Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz.)
This area is in Councilman Paul Koretz’s District, and despite my personal pleas to his office, and my articles over the years, there are no covered bus stops along that stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard in West Los Angeles.
From Barragan’s article, “,,,but bus shelter installation is overseen by Outfront JC Decaux, a partnership between two private companies, Outfront Media and JC Decaux.” The problem along Santa Monica Boulevard, I have been told, is the local neighborhood prevents the covered bus stops from being erected because of some relationship with Outfront Media and JC Decaux who will only place covered bus stops in this area if they are permitted to erect some type of electric billboard in the area. This has gone on for years, and in the interim, we bus riders suffer in the heat as Barragan describes, but also get soaked in the rain and blown in the wind.
Because of this disagreement, bus riders from senior citizens, to women with babies and children in tow, to the disabled, to all bus riders suffer because these two sides cannot, or will not, reach an agreement. In their conscience and sense of humanity I hope both parties open their hearts and minds and realize the real harm they are causing others. Otherwise they are not part of the solution but creators of a problem and suffering.
I do disagree with the idea of having trees at bus stops for shade.
1) Many of the newly planted city trees do not have leaves until late into Spring and provide no shade in the increasing hot city landscape. These trees lose their leaves in winter, and some winter days are warm to hot, and this will increase with the acceleration of climate change. Barren trees offer no shade.
2) The tree trunks are obstructions to exiting buses through the back door. Exiting a bus via the back door is a vital part of making buses run quickly.
3) The tree roots are hazards when we bus riders try to exit the back door.
While not a solution to bus stops without covered shelters, canopies and overhangs on buildings offer shade and protection. Perhaps a proactive City of Los Angeles Planning and Permitting Process would require buildings to have canopies or overhangs at bus stops for we bus riders. But thinking of the City of Los Angeles as being proactive seems to be just wishful thinking.
(Matthew Hetz is a Los Angeles native. He is a transit rider and advocate, a composer, music instructor, and member and president and executive director of the Culver City Symphony Orchestra.)