Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Missing Benches...

It's been awhile since I've posted because the nice weather nearly required that I ride my bike or walk to campus. I felt the urge to make the trek (which wouldn't be so far if I lived in New York or Chicago, so I don't know why I started to bus to campus anyway) before the blossoms opened in anticipation of regular sunlight and have been going out of my way to wear shoes that can withstand mud irresistible squishing since mid-March. There have been trips, but I managed to find everything I need in a two mile radius and have had considerably less need to take the bus recently. In a shocking turn of events I drove to the city last week.
It's unfortunate because I don't know how long the Lutherville Park and Ride, which serves as the beginning and end for the 8, 9, and 12 bus lines, has been without its bus stop. We need them back, Maryland Transit Administration.
We need them back for inclement weather (it rained today). We need them back for soaring temperatures (today was a prime example of elbow sweat). We need them back to restore order (without the landmark the 40+ passengers scattered across the loading zones intermingling between all three stops foreshadowing a Romero-style chaos; the bus only loads at one sign but there are more than four signs posted). Passengers with umbrellas from the morning's rain stood in the sun under his or her own personal protection next to a series of grey shopping carts from the nearby shopping center that had been purloined for the purpose of long-term seating now that the benches are gone.
The covered stops aren't paradise: most sweltering days will find passengers hiding in the shade provided by the power station. Today we lined single file against the white stone silently watching anyone brave enough to stand in the sun. Without the covered stops, it seemed hotter than it really was (the high was 70, but Maryland gets to 90 so in reality the weather was pleasant) but without the covered stops to store the humidity and heat like a state-installed oven the heat was dispersed. Dispersed to us.
There's only so much power station shadow to go around, you see, and in the shadow of the bus stop we can get four person per side. We can't crowd 50 people for the 8, 15 people for the 12, and 50 people for the 9 near the power station. Besides, it wouldn't be fair.
Fairness aside, I'm more concerned that when the bus turns the corner it hits the people hiding just around the corner. The buses don't move quickly but this situation is asking to go awry.
Maybe MTA is going to replace both stop with creative and inspired covered benches instead (via Broken Bike)? Perhaps MTA has commisioned MICA students to design them? MTA bus stops could be the new Crabtown Project. Think about it, MTA! They need to be functional and I personally prefer that all stops include a high level of practicality. Let's start with a bench. Heck, I'll take a summer fighting for shade near the power station if you replace the Light Rail and bus stop with the hinged seats before the covered benches. Let's cut a deal.