A bus shelter is an enclosed waiting area located near a bus station or stop that can feature great range in design, and functions. The simplest bus shelter might merely feature a back wall and two side walls with a bench or two on which to sit while you wait for a bus. Others are much larger, may be built out of various materials, and may have multiple benches. Plexiglas is a common choice since you can see through it to see when your bus arrives.
Large shelters are common at major transfer stations, where a lot of people will wait to change buses or board a bus, or they may be found at central bus stations where people can take a variety of bus routes. They can be helpful, when they’re well maintained, in guarding against inclement weather, particularly rain or snow, though some of them can get very hot if they aren’t sufficiently ventilated or insulated.
Before you rejoice and throw away your umbrella, note that buses that make many stops don’t always have bus shelters at every stop. You might have a bench, if you’re lucky, but don’t count on a bus shelter unless you take a bus from an area that is in frequent use by other passengers. For example, some bus routes in San Francisco stop every two blocks, but only a few of these stops, where the most people board the bus, have shelters.
There are many companies that specialize in designing bus shelters, and cities or transit organizations may work with a company to get a specific uniform design throughout a city, or to coordinate the look of the shelter with surrounding architecture. For instance, a city might find a shelter near a strip mall looks more attractive if it resembles the architectural style or theme of that mall. Ambition, design, and cost all play factors in city planners or transit authorities deciding what a bus shelter will look like. Consideration as to the weather in the area and the number of regular passengers may help determine just how many bus shelters should be erected.
An unfortunate sign of urban decay is the frequent deterioration of bus shelters and the frequent property damage that may be caused by less than perfect citizens. In larger cites, graffiti is fairly common on shelter walls, and you should always look before you sit on a bench to avoid sitting on gum. Some bus shelters feature trashcans so that waiting passengers won’t litter, but these then require maintenance in order to keep the shelter in good repair. If a city has a lot of shelters, it may not always be able to keep up with property damage, and older shelters in large cities can look and smell very unclean.
When cities are able to properly maintain each bus shelter and make them attractive to passengers, this may increase willingness of people wanting to take the bus. This can be a bonus to a city, since bus passengers reduce traffic congestion and pollution. A well-planned transport system with convenient and clean bus shelters can be an excellent thing.