Editor’s note: This story appeared in the January 2016 edition of Inmotion.
Just outside Methodist Dallas Medical Center, located in the North Oak Cliff area of Dallas, a woman waits on a bench for the next bus to arrive.
“I’m in town visiting a family member at the hospital and I needed a break,” she said. “I found a DART brochure in the lobby and ventured out. Now I’m trying to get my bearings, go back downtown, and see where else I can go on public transportation.”
More than 11,900 bus stops across the DART Service Area connect customers to their destinations and the entire regional transit system. For many, these stops are portals to employment, health care, education, basic necessities, family and friends, and more. All hail the lowly bus stop!
Many – like the one near Methodist Dallas Medical Center – are equipped with a bench or shelter for waiting passengers. For the thousands of customers who ride buses every day, these “passenger support facilities” are far more than amenities. They make it reasonable to travel by public transit.
“Benches and shelters are concrete, useful ways that we tell people DART is here, we want you to ride, and we care about you,” said Rob Parks, manager of passenger support facilities.
As a general guideline, DART places benches at bus stops with at least 25 daily riders, and a solar-powered, lighted shelter at those with 50 or more boardings. Many locations have a trash can and Guide-a-Ride, a four-sided sign displaying schedules of relevant bus routes.
DART has approximately 66 solar-lit bus stops located in areas with limited ambient light, good ridership and safety concerns. The agency hopes to install more solar lights, including some with flashing beacons, to better draw the bus operators’ attention.
Also in the works, DART is designing innovative bus shelters that will better meet the needs of customers.