Bus shelters were a hot topic this week.

At both the Greensboro Transit Advisory Commission (GTAC) and the Greensboro Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (GUAMPO) board meetings, bus shelters for the Greensboro bus system were discussed.

It was no accident. At both meetings GTAC member Cheryl McQueary brought up the topic. At the GTAC meeting, McQueary gave a PowerPoint presentation on some of the advantages of having more bus shelters.

MCQueary noted that one study showed a 92 percent increase in ridership after increasing the number of bus shelters. She added that this corresponded with a 94 percent drop in the number of calls for paratransit transport.

Since paratransit, in Greensboro SCAT, is about 30 times more costly than fixed route service, an effort that would increase fixed route ridership and reduce SCAT ridership would be a huge help to the budget.

McQueary also noted that by selling advertising space on the bus shelters they can become revenue producers.

At the GUAMPO meeting, McQueary gave the three-minute version of her report without the visual aids. But at both meetings her reports resulted in a discussion of bus shelters.

At the GTAC meeting, Commissioner David Hampsten noted that the bus shelters would act as a good advertisement for the transit system because many people aren’t even aware that it exists and don’t notice the little bus stop signs.

Public Transportation Division Manager Bruce Adams said that placing bus shelters was not as easy at it seemed.   He said a lot of people don’t want them in front of their place of business and putting them in front of homes was often more difficult. He said, “All kinds of inappropriate activity” takes place in and around bus shelters.

He also said that the cost was higher than it might seem because often property had to be acquired to build the bus shelter and also because they frequently had to be replaced. He said they had a “three and out” rule for bus shelters, and the third time one was seriously damaged, they removed it and didn’t replace it.

At the GUAMPO meeting, Greensboro Department of Transportation Director Adam Fischer said his department was including the area for a bus shelter in new sidewalk construction, so they wouldn’t have to come back and acquire more right-of-way.

He added that they were also now using a “sleeker shelter that doesn’t require so much right of way.”

And he said that when they are included in a sidewalk project that the state is funding, the state will help pay the cost.