Bus stops: function over frills, please

Phone-charging stations at the smart bus stop in Jurong Gateway Road.
Phone-charging stations at the smart bus stop in Jurong Gateway Road.ST FILE PHOTO

It is timely that the Land Transport Authority has decided to revamp 800 bus stops, adding new amenities such as electronic arrival information boards and oscillating fans. (Bus stops, fun stops, Life, Oct 15).

The additions will no doubt make public transportation a much more convenient and pleasant experience for commuters.

However, there are limits as to how far we can spruce up bus stops.

The fundamental purpose of a bus stop is to provide adequate shelter and space for commuters.

Ideally, the time spent at the bus stop will be minimal, due to high service frequencies.


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Thus, while basic creature comforts may be appreciated by passengers, it is more difficult to justify the more fanciful proposals for air-conditioning, phone-charging outlets and Wi-Fi access.

We must consider the tremendous cost of such features in terms of installation, operation and maintenance. In the case of air-conditioning, setting up a fixed partition could limit bus-stop capacity.

Such frills should be kept to a minimum.

That said, there are a number of additional features that the authorities could consider to improve bus stops with minimal expenditure.

The insulation of bus-stop roofs could be improved by using glass wool, among other materials, to keep temperatures in the shade under control.

The authorities could consider installing roof ventilators as a low-cost alternative to electric fans.

Metal blinds could be added at the front and rear of bus stops to shield commuters from sun or rain.

The current bus-stop design is rather anonymous and some commuters might have difficulty locating the bus shelter while navigating an unfamiliar neighbourhood. Signage leading to bus stops should therefore be improved.

Paul Chan Poh Hoi

It is more important to get the function of bus stops right rather than add frills to their design.

Bus stops should shelter commuters from rain when they board or alight from the bus. A larger roof will provide better protection under driving rain.

There seems to be an improvement with some of the bus stops, which have large shelters that extend over the buses.

However, at some of the Downtown Line MRT stations, such as King Albert Park, such shelters are provided at car drop-off points but not at the bus stops.

Lau Siew Heh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2016, with the headline 'Bus stops: function over frills, please'. Subscribe