Greater City Providence

New designer bus shelters in Montréal

Rendering by Leblanc + Turcotte + Spooner

Montréal has started testing 3 prototype new bus shelters on city streets The Montréal Gazette reports.

They cost up to $16,000 [Canadian] each – about twice as much as regular bus shelters – but Montréal’s public transit chief says the sleek new shelters are worth it because they will make people feel that taking public transit is cool.

The glass shelters feature benches, signs showing bus schedules and routes serving the stop, motion-sensing lighting to boost illumination when passengers enter the shelter, and anti-graffiti coating on the glass surfaces.

Outside the shelters (and at stops without shelters) will be a “totem,” a square post with color coded bus information.

Rendering by Leblanc + Turcotte + Spooner

The reason I write about these new shelters is yes, because I think they look cool, but really, because of the attitude of the transit agency’s chairman that allowed this design and added cost to happen.

“We’re a ‘design city’ and we want to improve the customer experience,” [STM chairman Michel Labrecque] answered when asked why fancier shelters are needed.

“We need shelters that give a contemporary signature to public transit,” he said. “It’s the same with the totems. Compare them to the old poles that are all crooked.”

With new shelters and bus-stop posts, “people will tell themselves – ‘Sharp. I’m in something that’s sharp. It’s not only motorists who are in cutting-edge vehicles. My bus is nicer, my stop is nicer, the shelter is nicer,'” Labrecque said. “Beauty and design are not accessories. The difference in price between (shelters that are) ‘not nice’ and ‘nice’ is not that much.”

We need that attitude here in the “Creative Capital.”

Rendering by Leblanc + Turcotte + Spooner

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.


  • I don’t think someone is going to decide to take the bus because they get to stand in a “really cool” bus shelter. Will Montreal be assessing whether ridership will increase on lines with the new shelters vs. lines without?

    I think money would be better spent with technology that tells me how far away my bus is from the bus stop I am standing at, or being able to log in from home to see how close the next bus it to my usual stop, or sending me a message to my phone that that the bus is 8 minutes out from the stop it takes me 5 minutes to get to. Then you might not really need all these cool bus shelters.

  • Dan , it’s the whole cumulative effect. People think buses are “yucky”.

    You know how the average 24 year old female loves Target? Ask her opinion of Kmart or Walmart. They’re essentially the same thing, but one is “cool”.

    It’s all about image.

    And why exactly do you assume that any money spent on shelters is money not spent on GPS technology….? Why can’t they do both?

  • People don’t ride buses because the shelters are “yucky”. They don’t ride because the buses and the system itself is “yucky”. The “image” of RIPTA is buses not arriving when they should, routes that don’t make sense, travel times that won’t make you leave your car at home. 24 year old women are not suddenly going to think RIPTA is cool because they get to wait in expensive hip bus shelters.

    I would hope any new bus shelter initiative would be part of a broader gps based solution. However, you need to make sure that the entire RIPTA fleet has the technology to be tracked, you need to have servers and software to handle the infomation coming in. You need to develop a website and mobile apps that make it easy for the public to access that information and you need to make sure your bus shelters and stops are outfitted with the appropriate technology.

    I would prefer that we don’t pay twice the cost for a shelter because we think its “sharp”. Using Montreal’s example: If 100 new shelters are rolled out they are spening $800k just to be sharp. Do you know what that would buy in technology? There is no point in having a groovy new bus shelter if you are waiting 30 minutes for a bus because they are off schedule …

    Shelters that cost twice as much for the sake of image are too expensive and, in my opinion, will not increase ridership enough to cover their cost. Should shelters be ugly? Of course not. They should be clean, well lit, safe, and outfitted with up to the minute information on when the next bus is coming but also cost effective.

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