Eyes on the Street: New Bus Shelters Appear on Market Street

new_shelters_1.jpgPhotos: Matthew Roth

Although they aren’t quite as innovative as the solar bus shelter at Geary and Arguello boulevards that we profiled in May 2009, the newly designed MTA bus shelters are appearing around the city, including these two on Market Street near the Ferry Building.

Designed by Ollie Lundberg of Lundberg Design, the top of the shelters are identical to the Geary trial, inspired by San Francisco’s hilly topography. These Market Street shelters are an amber color, in contrast to the red of the Geary Boulevard solar-powered shelter. The composite waves on one shelter are frosted amber, with neon shining up from the stainless steel structure; the other is clear amber, with neon running along the side.

The shelters are part of Clear Channel’s advertising contract with the city and every shelter is expected to be replaced by 2013.

MTA spokesperson Judson True said the agency has seven new shelters, but many more are coming. "We expect mass installation to begin in the next few months."

True said not all of the new shelters would be outfitted with solar due to shadows, regular fog, or an inability to hook into the grid.

  • Where is the Nextbus sign? Also, what good are new shelters when there are less and less buses servicing them?

  • Can’t see it from the photos, but the NextBus module is on the inside of the shelter.

  • Can I suggest that you and Judson both try referring to these as “transit shelters” rather than “bus shelters”? After all, you can wait for streetcars at some of them, too.

  • I see it now. I was looking in the usual spots, but it is at the bottom of the 2nd to last photo.

  • What good is a solar shelter when the advertisements therein suggest flying in airplanes?

  • @ Jarrett, guess you were right – here comes the cuts to the trunk. The fact that parking meter rate hikes still have not been discussed is criminal.

    @ Todd, at least they aren’t car ads.

  • Suz

    @Todd Let’s not get silly here. First of all the solar panels will work with the same effectiveness regardless of what ads are on the shelter.

    Secondly; airline ads are rarely intended to encourage people to fly who would otherwise use transit, they are intended to encourage use of one airline over another airline.

  • Judson can call them homeless shelters because no buses will serve them. Maybe that’s Gavin’s strategy for cutting the number of homeless, putting them in “bus” shelters…

  • Bob Collins

    Why are we spending money on new bus shelters, and a central subway for that matter? MUNI is broke, and today MTA recommended deep service cuts and some draconian fare increases. Insane.

    Actually, because you will be waiting even longer for your bus, maybe they should be fully enclosed and heated. $90 Fast Passes could cover the cost.

  • @Bob the SFMTA isn’t spending any money on the shelters, Clear Channel pays the cost to build, install and maintain them and we get a share of the revenue.

    The advertising and shelter contract revenue helps stave off even more service cuts since rider fares cover only a fraction of what it costs to run Muni.

  • Is Muni planning on keeping any of the old shelters completely intact and stationary, by any chance?

  • Seven

    What a curiously uninformed statement by Judson True. Solar panels work fine in the fog belt, as evidenced by the many homes with panels and the giant municipal solar project at the Sunset Reservoir.

  • I think Judson True’s statement if correct. The reason that all of the shelters don’t have solar panels is quite logical. Solar photovoltaic production is quite compromised by shadowing from buildings and trees, so if there is significant physical shadowing it would make sense to not install there. Also, since these are “grid tie” systems, having no storage batteries (expensive, bulky, they degrade over time, and contain toxic metals etc) the shelter has to have an electrical grid connection for the solar to make sense. Some shelters don’t.

  • none

    there’s no need for a nextbus sign on that shelter because no buses really stop there. it’s the 2nd to last stop on the 14/14L, no one is going to get on there. maybe a few people use it for the N Owl.

  • Miles

    Even if Clear Channel is paying for the new shelters, why were they needed? Muni almost certainly could have come away from this advertising procurement with a higher net return on the contract by letting the new vendor simply take over the old transit shelters. The ad frames seem to be the same size anyway, and most of the old shelters seemed to be in pretty good shape. While I like the new shelter design, what happens when that pretty neon gets snapped by vandals or just burns out? Does it get replaced by the vendor at all, and if so, does the cost go onto a maintenance ledger that is not capped (thus reducing Muni’s net return from the contract)?

    This matters because at the time of this procurement, Muni management knew, or should have known, of the financial tsunami offshore. The signs of it have been clear to any informed observer for several years now. So just saying, “not to worry, the vendor’s paying for it” seems a little simplistic to me.

  • I wonder what “inability to hook into the grid” could mean. I mean, if they’re solar, they wouldn’t need to hook into anything, right?

    I’m not saying that it’s untrue, I’m sure there’s some perfectly logical electrical explanation; it’s just kind of a weird statement.

    Oh, maybe it’s in case the solar cells crap out, they want the shelter to have a connection to the regular electrical grid as backup? I suppose that would make sense. Still, it seems like it would be better to have electrical power some of the time rather than none of the time.

  • As David Baker explained above, solar cells work when the sun shines. In order to have electricity when the sun isn’t shining, a system needs to be hooked up to the grid or have battery back-up. Unless you’re in a remote area with no electrical service, it is more economical and requires less maintenance for the grid to act as a de facto battery back-up. Most homes in the city that have solar panels are in the same situation.

  • bum

    It’s fairly customary for the contractor, in this case Clear Channel to be responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the new bus shelters. This includes replacing lighting fixtures, graffiti removal and even usually sidewalk cleaning/pressure washing and trash collection. The old shelters may have appeared to be in decent shape, but this is a 20 year contract; I’m not sure they would have looked so good in 20 years. In addition, in all liklihood, the old shelters are owned by the vendor previous to Clear Channel, not MUNI. So, in order to use the old shelters, MUNI would only be able to either extend the old contract (which isn’t so good for competetion), or buy up all the old shelters from the previous vendor, which I doubt they can afford.


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