For many, public transit is the only way to get around. In much of America, they are predominantly poorer, older or younger than the average and they are not well served. It’s not funny, and most people don’t think about it very much.
Over on Streetsblog, Angie Schmitt and her team figured out a way to make people think about it, and actually make it kind of fun with America’s Sorriest Bus Stop Tournament, where readers submitted photos of sad, horrible bus stops around the country which were voted on in tiers, following the traditional playoff format. The winner in the last match between Kansas City and Silver Spring was the latter, an inaccessible patch of ground next to a state highway with speeding traffic. It won in a landslide, unfairly I think, because it got coverage in the Washington Post, where Angie notes:
The Silver Spring entry also came away with the most impressive local coverage in the competition. The Washington Post got all three agencies responsible for this bus stop and the streets around it — WMATA, Montgomery County DOT, and the Maryland State Highway Association — on the record. All three pointed fingers at each other, unfortunately, which nicely encapsulates a key obstacle to better bus stops.
I personally was rooting for Kansas City; the stop is near Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals. Submitter Brian noted:
On top of being next to what’s effectively a highway, the stop is very poorly lit and next to impossible to find after a game (or for any other reason, with the lack of a sign). The nearest crosswalk is up at East Red Coat Drive. Coming to a game on the bus in the other direction, police had to stop traffic so my family could cross the 4+ lanes of cars, and then we had to walk across a giant parking lot and a few grassy areas to get to the stadium.
A commenter also noted:
Not only is there no sign there, but ALL the stops around Royals Stadium are terrible. This stadium probably employs hundreds of event workers and thousands of fans attend every game night. They deserve better than to be dropped off at a random ditch.
I wrote about Kauffman Stadium last year as my beloved Blue Jays were getting killed in the pennant race, complaining about the sea of asphalt around it and comparing it to Toronto's downtown Rogers Centre. I was roundly condemned by Royals fans saying “everybody drives, it is part of our tailgate party culture, go back to Canada and take your stupid foreign Blue Jays with you,” But it is clear that not everybody drives, and that no provision is made for those who do not.
The Silver Spring stop is appalling, but the Kansas City one is worse in so many ways, saying “we exist for fans who pay lots of money to come to our game and we simply don’t care about the kind of people who take transit.” In Silver Spring, everyone agrees it's awful but denies responsibility. In Kansas City, it’s just a blatant statement of “we don’t serve your kind here.” I think that makes it far worse.