I once wrote about Trains do more than just Transiting but offering a Destination, in which I think our authority or designers have ignored the significance of the stations rather than just focusing on transiting. (READ more here) The same goes to Bus station. Most people blame on public transport on various things, but to my surprise, there’s so little of emphasis done on the design of the Bus Stop.
(Disclaimer# I am writing this as an active user in public transportation and without any specific professional experience in public infrastructure design so please spare me if you think my comments are insensible and kindly comment on this post to start some constructive discussion!) Credits to GoogleImages#
It was at the recent National Forum on Public Transportation where I was trying to picture the pessimistic impression on public transport today. Well, it was a good meet with SPAD, Malaysia’s Land Transportation Authority describing the authority and legislation hierarchy behind this issue. But until when one of them in the panel is someone from DBKL who says he is the one in charged in plotting out the bus routes, I threw him the question;
“Sir so may i know who is the person in charged of designing these bus stops? What measurements were taken to study the practicality of our bus stops? Is it just a prototype being “cloned” and put in every destination thoughts?”
So well he did tell me oh yes the bus stops location are strategic covering certain radius etc, and all the answer he gave me is, “WE FOLLOW UNIVERSAL DESIGN”. After all the long explanation I gave on why our bus stop is not practical, you threw me back this short answer and I knew that there is a big issue for overlooking this little aspect.
Yes, it may be a little aspect for them because the whole masterplan is still about bus routes, connectivity and bus services. Allow me to clarify why this so-called universal design doesn’t sound sensible at all. Since he also added on that it’s the same design we normally see on the street. First of all, i don’t even know there’s such thing as universal design for bus stops, do I see the same design of bus stop in Malaysia with another country? Anyways before I start rambling on the issues of our bus stops, let me put up my notion why do I think that the significance of bus stop design has been compromised.
Most of us highlighted about the condition of bus and travelling, that’s ok, but a person could spend up to half of his journey waiting at the bus stop, and when it’s a “bench” which defined by two pipes and inappropriate sun shading design that exposes heat and glare to the users, don’t you think the “service” of the bus stop deserves the same amount of attention as to bus conditions?
Bus Stops can be landmarks, and also a resemblance of community integration, it’s a common space, and it’s meant to be respected and shared. It is to be Safe, Convenient, User Friendly, and a healthy place to be.
But why design a space that is such an eyesore even people just can’t understand how to appreciate it? It is the Beginning and the Ending of a journey and despite rain or shine, this simple shelter has to be seriously considered on its capability to provide a comfortable waiting area with much to offer its rider to wait patiently.
REALITY & PERCEPTIONS
But here’s the reality and perceptions in Malaysia today. Even if you are a Malaysian reading this right now, most likely you are starting to trace back the last moment you step into a bus stop (or was there even one?) or trying to illustrate what does it look like since you are stuck in the thousand tonnes of steel cage most of the time, well! Here’s something like it.
So you see, there is insufficient space for the passengers waiting for area.. the even bus stop is placed in the wrong direction. And as for most of us know, you have all kind of spams of unauthorized advertisements and shark loans on basically any surface they can find and basically almost any previous metal items will be stolen or anything like public phones or LED advertisement board will be stolen too! The Perceptions of the public towards bus stops has gone to the drain; What more to expect the design of Bus stands to respect the rights of a disabled group of people (TheStar article HERE) ?
Unsafe with the current snatch theft issue, Vulnerable to Heavy Rains, Not comfortable with glares and unnecessary heat gain, Dirty benches, damaged amenities, and poor lighting provision exposes user to potential victim of rape cases..Smokers dominate the place.. poor proximity of bus stops and poor pavement build up area to the surrounding nearby locations.. and the list goes on.
The current reality also appears in an academic field where I was trying to find any scholar articles but the only one seem to be associated is Renewable Energy integrated system with the bus stop. It’s funny that I have seen that research was done in my university USM too. But beyond that, I found nothing even close to the research of design of public works such as bus stops. (Kindly share with me if you have!) There’s still a long journey for us to understand the interaction of end users with a bus stop.
Such as,What kind of Seats for Bus Stops? What are the age range of most bus stops users, average waiting time to date etc? What I am really curious about is if there is anyone done a research on end-user usage to the seats in a bus stop, in Ergonomic terms. Are there really more people prefer to sit? How low the seat should be? How big dimensions should it be? Some ad hoc bus stops also put up swings! who knows maybe we can even put rocky chair.. or even some monkey bars.
So here, for example, you have leaning chair or the leaning rocker fitted to the wall which says to be much more “healthy” comparing to the typical office seats every day, who knows the same goes to the bus stands? But anyway the main focus here isn’t this, just a point to say that we have yet to study on a lot of aspects on these small bus stations, that is still very much underrated in the public transport industry. Another reality, at a serious note, is, some bus stops apparently don’t even have a bus stop but just a corner somewhere or out of nowhere!
And well yes you can see there is no proper rubbish trash bin available too in most bus stops.. ahh but this is a good way of raising awareness of how much trash is littered in bus stop each day. So yes the perceptions of the public towards the bus stop is, Not Safe, Not Clean, Not Convenient (also partly due to the whole public transportation performance), Even not knowing there is a bus stop behind their house! and taking a Bus is Not So Cool. thanks to the public social status that having a car is more luxurious sometimes.
Well, both of the performance of bus stands and public bus must go hand in hand to improve the public transportation sector. All of our bus stop design must be User-Friendly, Safe, Convenient, and Encouraging! So hereby I am proposing my idea on 10 Aspects a bus stand design can be improved on, purely on designing intentions with my architectural understanding, and nothing to do with regulations policies or anything else. And most of these 10 aspects are basic benchmarks!
1. Proper Bus Stop Signage and Route Maps/ Local Maps – It’s frustrating to know sometimes even at bus stands in Malaysia we don’t have the basic indicator we need! The Bus Stop Signage! And also the two simple information maps we need, the bus routes and also the surrounding locations, like 750meters radius map from the bus stand.
2. Trash Bins – Let’s not really talk about recycling bins if we could, but Trash bins as the fundamental amenity a bus stand should have is not even widely seen in Malaysia. Or Most probably stolen already? So the whole idea is to build an integrated safe design to prevent thief and protecting user comfort.
4. Extensive Shading and Gutter System- Then you have a bus stand that most of the time fail to function when it rains so heavily in Malaysia. The raining condition in Malaysia isn’t just illustrated by a heavy downpour but often accompanied by rushing winds that rain horizontally and wets all the user. The above two picture illustrate how shallow the depth of the sunshade roof is and without a proper seat at all. The recommended depth should be two meters. Another issue is also there should be the installation of water gutter (depends on roof design) the whole point is to divert all the rainwater and discharge them via pipes properly instead of dripping from the roof edge which will contribute to the problem overall, that wets the users too. (Wish I have a picture to prove this, though)
While there are many aspects to be done from the local authority, various end users are coming up with their own approach to making public transportation journey more comforting, or perhaps some informative application like this. Done by MypublicTransport. An interactive map that tells you where is the bus stop and which buses stop there.
I do write a couple of blog post on LRT too.
Feel free to comment and share on what do you think about the bus stops, or anything about public transport in Malaysia! 😉