A Field Guide to Bus Shelters

[Replacing an ad on a flat-roof CBS shelter on Saint Paul's Minnesota St.]
Last week, I wrote a Cityscape column all about bus stops and bus shelters. In doing so, I learned a lot about actual types of bus shelters and began noticing them as I went around the city.

Here's a bit of background from the piece:

The Twin Cities’ transit system has about 12,000 bus stops spread throughout the metro area, and somewhere around 800 of them have shelters operated by the agency. Of the stops with shelters, about 14 percent of them of have lights and 10 percent have heat for the winter. In theory, the agency has guidelines about which well-used stops should receive shelters, but in practice there are many stops in the center cities that lack shelters despite high ridership.

As it turns out, once you start spotting different types of bus shelters, it's hard to stop. Here's what I've learned so far.

There are three main types of bus shelters in the Twin Cities:
  • 1) Metro Transit shelters (without ads)
  • 2) CBS shelters (with ads) 
  • 3) Public/Private (aka "custom") shelters

Within those broad categories, there are even more distinctions depending on age, roof type, and size. Here's a rough sampling of a dozen or so.

CBS Shelters - These shelters are actually owned by CBS Outdoor, a large media/advertising company that also runs billboards, and advertising laden benches. Oddly, considering the trend toward privatizzation in other cities aroun the country, Minneapolis recently cancelled their contract with CBS Outdoor, so CBS shelters in Minneapolis are gradually being phased out. However, they are still being built and operated in Saint Paul and some other suburbs (I heard Roseville...).

Note that these shelters typically have ads only one side, usually the side that is the "far side" of whichever direction the police typically come from. (E.g. downstream from the direction of traffic.) Safety and transparency (meant quite literally) is a key consideration in bus shelter design.

[A flat roof CBS shelter, probably the oldest of the type. Wabasha and 6th, DT Saint Paul.]

[Metal variation of CBS shelter, probably much newer. Hennepin and Washington, DT Minneapolis.]

[Curved roof CBS shelter. Nicollet and 16th, Minneapolis.]

Metro Transit Shelters [basic] - These are the most common type of shelter, particularly once you get out of Minneapolis and Saint Paul proper. They are distinctive because of the lack of advertising. You can tell the ages of the shelters by looking at the type of metal and glass used (striped = more recent) and whether the roof is curved perpendicularly (older) or whether the curve is aligned with the shelter (more recent).

Also, increasingly these come in different sizes and configurations, such as fully enclosed and half enclosed.

[Curved roof MT Shelter without striped glass. Wabasha and 5th, DT Saint Paul.]

[MT Shelter with a higher peaked roof. Nicollet and 18th, Minneapolis.]

[Larger version of the above. Note different size roof and glass panes. Nicollet and Franklin, Minneapolis.]

[High peak half-shelter. Nicollet Avenue, Minneapolis.]

[Silver MT "logo" shelter, the newest model out there. Nicollet Avenue, Minneapolis.]

Metro Transit Shelters [deluxe] - In addition to the basic shelter, there are certain special Metro Transit-owned shelters that are becoming more common throughout the Twin Cities. Right now, the best example are the Marq-2 shelters along Marquette and 2nd, however as the proposed aBRT system rolls out, more deluxe Metro Transit shelters will become more common.

[A Marq-2 Shelter with NexTrip sign, quasi-benches. Marquette Avenue, Minneapolis.]

[One of the proposed aBRT "A Line" shelters.]

Public/Private Shelters - These are the really idiosyncratic ones. There are a whole range of privately-built and sometimes publicly maintained "custom shelters" throughout the Twin Cities. Sometimes, if they are designed to be compatible with Metro Transit's components (e.g. glass), they are maintained by Metro Transit. Otherwise they are wholly private.

[The "flower shelter", a custom design in North Minneapolis.]

[The "Taj Mahal" shelter on 6th and Jackson, DT Saint Paul.]

[A large non-bus stop shelter by the bus waiting area. Parking lot next to the library, Minneapolis.]

[Custom shelter. Hennepin Avenue, downtown Minneapolis.]

[Custom shelter. Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis.]

[Custom shelter. Note absence of glass panes. MT probably doesn't do much to this one. Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis.]


This amusing photo was sent in by a friend, showing a new Metro Transit shelter side-by-side with a custom shelter in Richfield.



Unknown said...
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Eric S said...

You should check out this wooden structure in St. Anthony Park:


Kyle Marek-Spartz said...

Many of the silver CBS shelters were brown until summer of 2010 or 2011, and they were painted very meticulously so they may look new.

I was going to suggest the St. Anthony Park bus stops, too. Bill needs to come by SAP more...

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