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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Shelter from the Storm: Optimizing Distribution of Bus Stop Shelters in Los Angeles


The functions of bus stop shelters and factors affecting their placement at stops in transit systems are analyzed. Drawing on information from a variety of sources, current shelter placement policy in Los Angeles was found to be guided principally by the revenue-generating potential of shelter advertisements, secondarily by political concerns over geographic equity, and only peripherally on the basis of bus stop use. Using data on shelter and stop locations, boardings, and headways, a methodology is developed for measuring the cumulative use of bus stops with regard to person-min of wait time. Then this measure is used to evaluate three scenarios of bus stop placement, each of which optimizes the goals of (a) private shelter providers, (b) locally elected officials, and (c) bus patrons, respectively. The conclusion is that their of the latter two scenarios would dramatically – by 2.3 person-years each day – increase the time that bus patrons in Los Angeles spend under shelter while waiting for buses at stops. This analysis both demonstrates the utility of using stop-coded boarding data in combination with headway data in the planning of bus stop shelters and shows the ineffectiveness and inequities that can arise when the sheltering of waiting passengers is not explicitly incorporated into policies guiding the placement of transit shelters.

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