What is a bus stop?
Besides the obvious, of course (a place for people to wait for the bus). As Birmingham architects, we see public transportation all around us. We see people waiting on the side of the road next to blue and white markers, all throughout the year, whether it’s hot, cold, rainy or dry.
And as we contemplated this question, and observed how people interact with their bus stops, we started to see that bus stops are a combination of marker, shelter, transportation interchange, and social space.
This intriguing combination made us wonder: What would make a better bus stop for Birmingham?
Visibility as a Landmark
The first angle we took viewed the bus stop as more than just a place to sit or stand. The bus stop isn’t just a node; it also wants to be a landmark. So, we wanted to make the bus stop more visible – hence the clear, unmistakable branding. Making the stop a more visible component in the urban fabric can increase safety and awareness while reinforcing the sense of place – while at the same time showing potential users the viability and convenience of the system and its locations.
We then paid attention to the shape of the stop and what it should look like. It’s better to have some kind of shelter from the elements, but also had an interesting observation: when there were covered stops, most riders waited outside. (Good weather permitting, of course.) So we opted to design an unconfined space.
Bus Stops as Social Hubs
Bus stop also provide opportunities to be social. We wanted to provide a space comfortable for interaction. Here, we opted for a few different fixtures that accommodate the most common postures observed at the bus stops (sitting, standing, leaning). You can sit, stand, and use a table on the reverse side, or lean against the structure.
We also viewed the bus stop as a convergence of transportation networks. Providing bike racks was not only a way to couple the two networks, but also emphasize the ease of how these two means of transportation – biking and riding – can be used together.
Above all, we wanted the stop to be flexible. The entire stop is designed as a modular system that can be customized based on location. A flexible modular system provides the most opportunity to tailor fit each stop based on its needs.
As you make your way through Birmingham, observe the urban landscape and how people interact with it. And take time to look at the bus stop. Just ask yourself, “If I were waiting there, what would I want?”
Designing this bus stop provides one possible answer.