BY ELLIE HENSLEY
Do you find Midtown’s current bus stops to be informative, comfortable and welcoming spaces that are reflective of the district’s diversity?
No? Neither do we. That’s why we set out earlier this year to engage the community on an exciting study, “That’s My Stop,” to help us imagine better bus stops of the future.
“While buses themselves are often nice, waiting for them can be a less than appealing experience and is often accompanied by confusion,” said Julie Harlan, Midtown Alliance Transportation Project Manager. “We want to create spaces that feel good to rest and wait for your ride in, that can act as a refuge, a place you look forward to stopping through at the end of your day.”
Midtown Alliance was awarded a Livable Communities Initiative grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission to study how to improve bus stops throughout the Midtown Improvement District, with a focus on the pilot along Spring and West Peachtree Streets.
With help from local artist George F. Baker III and urban designers MKSK, we gathered feedback from public events, social media, and a stakeholder focus group on what bus stops need to be inviting places. Baker III's art was used as a central tool during the outreach effort to help tap into the community’s imagination.
Among the highest-ranked necessities were route and schedule information, seating, shelter and lighting. Top requested amenities to make spaces more welcoming included greenery, wayfinding and public art.
We have taken what we heard from this public engagement period and designed concept proposals that integrate as many of these key elements as possible. Check them out below!
Check out this bus stop redesign for the corner of West Peachtree Street and Ponce de Leon Ave.
Stay Cool, Breathe Easy
What if a bus stop looked, felt and functioned more like a tree? With a network of more than 40 miles of tree-lined sidewalks, Midtown is one of the most distinctly urban and green districts in the region. These bus stop designs reimagine bus stops as an “Arboretum,” a beautiful and comfortable respite that provides some protection against sun and water.
The perforated canopies can also be designed so that they can be modified to perform a variety of functions, including harvest water, grow plants or generate solar power.
The bus stops are designed to maintain ADA accessible loading zones and routes and provide a waiting area for those using mobility devices or with strollers. At night, the structures will be internally illuminated to improve safety.
Current view: Priority Site #1 is located at West Peachtree and Ponce de Leon, by the North Ave. MARTA Station.
Testing, Testing: Two Sites Eyed for Redesign Pilot
During the study, we were able to narrow down Midtown's bus stops to two priority sites. The first is at West Peachtree Street and Ponce de Leon Avenue, next to the North Avenue MARTA Station, where many residents and jobs have been added to the area in recent years.
Although the station and adjacent bus stop have solid ridership, there are currently few amenities in the area and no refuge from rain or sun. This bus stop redesign would pair well with the planned North Avenue MARTA Station Plaza Enhancements, We also see an opportunity for new public art on the wall adjacent to the stairs up to the transit station, potentially by local artist George F. Baker III, who helped us engage the community during our initial public input period.
Priority Site #2
Priority Site #2 is at West Peachtree Street and Peachtree Place, another stop with solid ridership in a dense area for residential and business. A connection spot for the Midtown MARTA Station is just a block away, and the corner offers an opportunity to expand what we think of as a bus stop by creating something more like a plaza activation. This bus stop is also located in the middle of two other projects in the planning phase: the Central Midtown Connection Plan and West Peachtree LIT Lane.
Concept plan for Priority Site #2, at the corner of Peachtree Place and Peachtree Street.
Next Steps for 2023
At least one redesigned bus stop will be implemented at one of the priority sites in 2023, and it will be funded by the Midtown Improvement District. During this pilot phase, the team will be testing all aspects of the design, from the function of the planters to the efficacy of the shade structure and seating. Ultimately, the goal is to provide a kit of parts that can be set up at various locations around the district and modified to suit a wide variety of sites.
Follow the progress of this pilot engagement on our LCI Bus Stop Enhancement project page.