Greater City Providence

Reader Submission: New Wayland Square bus shelter

Photo © Amanda Jordan

A reader submitted the above photo of the new bus shelter on Angell Street near Wayland Square. As the reader pointed out, it is near Wayland Square, actually just past the intersection with Elmgrove. Why not place it at the corner of Wayland Avenue in the square itself? There is a bus stop just before the Starbucks.

I would also say, as beautiful as it is as a work of art, it isn’t terribly shelter-ie. The thing that I don’t like about the Lamar shelters, is that the back is perforated, so the wind howls right through it. The roof offers protection from rain, but the protection from wind is as important, especially this time of year. This shelter in Wayland Square looks like it lacks any wind protection.

Where are there really good bus shelters?

Photo by Jef Nickerson

In Boston on parts of the Silver Line. The stopped pictured above at South Station, is basically a mini-bus station. Good wind and rain and snow protection, a ticket machine, schedule information… This is obviously more than we need at most stops, but it is really great and I hope we see something like this along the Rapid bus lines RIPTA is planning.

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • Interesting on that South Station stop. I know that the silver line also has a stop INSIDE South Station. You see it on your way down to catch the Red Line.

  • The South Station Silver Line subway stop heads out to the Seaport and Airport. The stop on the street is the northern end of the Washington Street line. The MBTA has decided not to pursue funding to connect the subway directly to the Washington Street line, so you need to make a transfer at South Station.

  • The Boston shelter shown is found ONLY at the one bus stop, and at 10 or so light rail stops (D line branch). It’s nice (it even has a heater) but it’s isn’t exactly standard issue.

  • RIPTA has very specific requirements for these bus shelters: no glass is allowed and they want maximum visibility for passengers: for security reasons, so one can see if anyone is lurking around as you wait for the bus, and so passengers can see the buses as they approach. Also, shelters located on narrow sidewalks need to allow pedestrians ample room to pass by, so that necessitates a certain amount of openness as well.

  • The structure of this stop is fixed in the center isle of the sidewalk itself, making it impassable to pedestrians walking and people in wheelchairs.

    Waiting passengers occupying the shelter-space (sitting or standing) are also occupying the sidewalk. There simply is not enough space in the walk to walk while having no safe alternative other than to pass through the structure, dodging waiting passengers.

    These types of stops are also found in Olneyville and pose the same problems. The sidewalk and structure are just too narrow to coexist and provide to maintain their primary safety functions. Each seriously needs to be rethought.

  • I haven’t actually got out and seen this shelter for myself yet. I have an event I’m going to in Wayland Square next week, so I might see it then. Andy, your comments were what I was concerned about when I was sent the photo. My first impression was, “wow, that’s cool.” Then I really started taking a critical look at it.

    E Carlson, if what your saying about RIPTA’s conditions for these shelters is true, then consider me disappointed. Really, the Lamar shelters provide more shelter than these conditions allow for. Functionally, this is not really a shelter so much as it is public art. I’m all for public art, and it is certainly better than a sign nailed to a pole in making for a bus stop. I would hope however, to see something more like the Silver Line stop at high use bus hubs like Wayland Square.

    JJ, I do love that Silver Line stop, but do understand we shouldn’t expect something like that at every stop, but someplace like Wayland Square is, or should be, the type of high use space where something like it would be expected.

    Here’s the typical Silver Line stop on Washington Street.

    Silver Line

    Ugh. That roof is so high and there are no walls. Again, not really much of a shelter. And I remember when they were installed there was a lot of push back because that kiosk with the maps and information on it sits directly between people sitting at the benches and their view of the on-coming bus. If you’re sitting at the shelter, you can’t see the bus coming.

  • I took some photos today with my mobile.

    Image 1.

    Though the gentleman walking the stroller was about my height, 6′-6’4″, he had an average and proportionate build/shoulder width. Notice the limited seating space for a potential waiting bus passenger as pedestrians walk by.

    Images 2 & 3.

    • The structure takes up about 4′ of walkable sidewalk that would otherwise be exposed for pedestrians, wheelchairs, strollers, snow removal, etc.

    • Notice the entire impassability on the street-side of the structure, especially when considering the existing sign posts. The street-side of the structure takes up most of the entire street-side of the sidewalk and is placed essentially center to that “lane” of the walk.

    • Placement of existing signage is confusing as is, more so now with the addition of this structure.

    • There are designated Handicapped Parking spaces, though the “2 Hour Parking” (note the arrow) and RIPTA Bus stop signs are conflicting messages. The vehicle in the image was parked there upon arrival – I walked.

    Opinion: Overall the entire thing stinks. Having noticed the Olneyville shelters a while back I wish I had a positive word for each of these. I don’t. They’re out of place, poor design and non-engaging. Even as “public art” it smells of these things and is confusing – is it a bus shelter, a simple bench or just another unnecessary and over designed obstacle?

    Providence is an amazing cultural and artistic city with an imaginative and creative pool of artists, thinkers and designers. Yet, we still seem to forget of functionality and how civic-engineering ultimately effects the every day lives of the every day public. Besides, why is this not in the center of Wayland Sq. if anywhere at all?

    Another good idea, ruined without thought.


  • RIPTA built the existing Kennedy Plaza so they don’t have a great history of design excellence. They will remain a key player and patron in Kennedy Plaza and the future streetcar urbanism.

    I know they are trying but I hope they develop a better design program soon. A pat on the back for trying but public design excellence remains elusive in all corners of the Creative Capital.

  • While I agree with everyone’s comments on the shortcomings of this shelter, it is definitely better than what was there, which was nothing. Even if imperfect, it provides a creative and permanent marker for public transportation in the Square (and I’m okay that it isn’t smack at the corner of Wayland and Angell, as Wayland Square is bigger than that). I’m more impressed that RIPTA was willing to put a stake in the ground and say that this is now and for the foreseeable future a permanent bus stop. I think one perception issue with buses is that they seem unreliable and unfixed. Hopefully this will at least help change that perception.

  • Andy, thanks for the pics, I embedded them so they will show in your post.

    That parking sign configuration pisses me off to no end. I did a post about a similar set up last year.

    In an ideal world, this shelter would sit off the edge of the sidewalk on a new pad. I assume that placing it off the sidewalk would mean it is now on someone’s private property, which could be construed as a taking, or if the property owner agreed to the placement, would open up liability issues.

    The other solution, is to extend the sidewalk out into the parking lane here. Parking is not allowed at bus stops, though parking is not prohibited for a wide enough area for a bus to pull in. So having an extended sidewalk allows the bus to pull up and people to board. Especially useful with the new buses that have the low floor to board wheelchairs from the curb. Not sure where the shelter should go in that arrangement, where it is now I think with pedestrian through traffic walking in front of it.

    I agree with Soren though, it is a good first start for RIPTA, though seeing Any’s photos, I’m not sure the PR benefits outweigh the terrible placement.

  • Slightly off topic but the same general theme:

    Call For Artists
    RIPTA will accept proposals for a custom bus shelter on Charles Street. The goal of this project is to enhance the experience of those traveling through Charles Street business district by providing seating and shelter from the weather while introducing unique design elements to the streetscape environment. Proposals are due March 18, 2010. All interested parties should contact RIPTA directly to discuss bidding process. All design, materials, installation and permitting not to exceed $49,999.

    Scope of Work attached. If you are interested in this project, the full RFP is available at The RIPTA staff is eager to answer any and all questions from interested bidders – contact directly.

  • Hey Everyone,

    I am the designer/artist of the above shelter. Thank you for both the positive and negative comments and critique. I would like to respond to a few. As for the location, I too am a bit disappointed. The first location was to go at the intersection of Angell and Wayland on the north side of Angell. However, the property owner was not happy and pulled in some big guns to get it relocated. He does not believe in the positive aspects of installing shelters and only sees them as graffiti boards and shade for the derelict. Hence the new location. If you pass the stop now, you will notice that the signage has been changed, making it less confusing.
    The protection from the weather is another issue. As Eric stated, the materials accepted are very limited to to durability, ease of cleaning, and flammability. Though the back of the seating is perforated, it will reduce the impact of the rain while providing safety for the neighborhood by allowing views into the shelter from the back. Along with the roof, protection is greatly improved. If you compare it to the silverline stops you will notice two things, one, the enclosed shelter has a lot of space around it. It is not located on a 9′ sidewalk. Secondly, the more popular silver shelter has no protection from the wind and due to the height of the roof, little protection from angled rain. Believe me, this is not due to the designers choices, but that of the public process.
    As for the passage or lack thereof. I have 10 years working with accessibility projects on a variety of scales. It is my goal to make accessibility seamless in the environment. This shelter adheres to these goals. The entire width of the shelter footings combined are 32″ wide, the average shelter is 41″. That’s an additional 9″ of passage. Also, the distance between the street and the front of the shelter is 36″. This meets ADA requirements for passage. The area clear under the shelter is 40″. This provides space for a person sitting and a wheelchair to pass. Show me another shelter that will allow for 2 wheelchairs to pass.

    That is enough. For your information, the design of the roof is taken from the stone shelter on Blackstone Boulevard (they once shared a trolley line), and the open structure is reminiscent of garden structures, highlighting the neighborhoods green.

    Use it in good health.


  • Any shelter design is going to have problems and I agree with the writer who said it is a lot better that what was there which was nothing. This shelter as I understand it was originally designed and approved to be situated IN the square across the street from CVS. And that is where it belonged. There is NO excuse for the local authorities bending to the will of a property owner whose short sighted and selfish motives should have NO place in the discussion of where a public facility of this kind is located. In any event, before the city allowed this shelter to be moved to a location where it will receive far less use, it should have been the subject of a public discussion. I would like to know exactly who in city government was involved in making what amounts to a private secret deal with a connected landlord that is not in the interest of the taxpayers of Providence.

Providence, RI
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