By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
Oklahoma City mayoral candidate, Dr. Ed Shadid recently held a press conference outside City Hall to address the topic of bus stops.
A current budget surplus allows each city council member to spend $1 million on capital improvements. Shadid chose bus stops saying fewer than 5 percent have shelter; most are just a bench and need upgrades.
Shadid wants to solicit partnerships from private businesses to help make upgrades and believes advertising could help pay for new shelters.
Councilman Shadid asked two people waiting for a bus in the sweltering heat, what they would like to see in a bus stop.
“Plexiglas walls where you can see through it,” said frequent bus rider Crystal Dockins. “Where you won’t get wet.”
South OKC resident Stacey Roberts noted how close the bench was to the street. “I’ve seen some people come right up on the curb.”
They also want to see bus routes and schedules posted, saying current bus schedule are “very confusing.”
Multiple industry sources including “Project for Public Spaces” report that bus stops need to be 5-10 feet from the curb for safety and people need to be protected from the weather with comfortable seating.
“I wish it would run after 7 o’clock,” Dockins said. “I’d be in favor of the city paying the bus drivers to stay until at least 9 o’clock.” The bus that runs near her home at 25th & High stops running at 6 p.m.
“The city doesn’t get any of the advertising revenue,” said Shadid. “If we would just split it, we’d have enough money to run in the evenings and on Sundays.”
Shadid referred to a March 2008 Journal Record article, in which Tony Tyler of Tyler Media, who owns the bus stop advertising said, “The benches and the shelters are from the 1970s and 1980s. They need to be improved and we realize that. There are 6,000 bus stops in Oklahoma City, about 1,400 have pieces of street furniture.”
Shadid said, “Federal funds will pay for 80 percent of the shelter. We would only have to pay 20 percent. If we could get a marginal amount of advertising revenue, we would pay our 20 percent very quickly and we’d have a dedicated funding source.”
“If each bus bench produced $100 revenue a month, it would provide $1.8 million a year; $200- $3.6 million and $500 – $5.4 million,” Shadid added.
Shadid noted that the city owns the buses and 50 percent of bus wrap ad revenue goes to the city. “The large signs on the back of the bus – we keep 60 percent and with advertising on the inside of the bus, we keep 70 percent.”
“What the people say they want more than anything in MAPS 3 is public transit,” Shadid said. “We decided to spend $120 million – every single penny – on the downtown streetcar system without spending anything on our existing transit system. Yet, we’re going to build dignified shelters every three blocks along the streetcar route.”
Shadid said, “A first class bus shelter with a real time clock telling how many minutes to the next bus, signage, everything, would cost about $10,000.”
A 2005 study resulted in the city selecting a winning bus shelter design that was never implemented.
Artist Dan Sparks, an Oklahoma City resident said, “There should be a lot more attention to safety and comfort if we want to attract and keep riders. Now, you have some long waits between buses, sometimes in very harsh conditions.”
Metro resident James Nimmo said, “I’ve been riding OKC Metro buses, nearly every work day round-trip, for more than 20 years. In all that time there have been many changes, all of them aimed against the rider/customer–making the use of Metro more inconvenient and more expensive.”
Shadid said, “What attracts people to a transit system is they feel safe. I think it’s a question of priorities and treating people with dignity.”
For more information visit www.edshadid.com.