Designing urban spaces to improve mobility for all inhabitants is one of the main objectives of NACTO, the National Association of City Transportation Officials. Founded in 1996, this non-profit organization brings together more than 40 US and Canadian cities to share their advice and design practices seeking to raise the design standards in public policies for public spaces, mobility, and transportation.
They’ve developed a series of guides in which they propose design guidelines to make streets, cycle paths, intersections and other urban spaces more accessible and safe for all road users. One of the most recent is the "Transit Street Design Guide" in which they offer, among other things, 6 recommendations to take into account when designing bus stops. Find out what these recommendations are below.
1. "Stations are Gateways."
The relationship vehicular traffic has with sidewalks and buildings is one point that should receive special attention when designing a bus stop or station. This is because the way a stop interacts with its environment determines whether or not it’s an appropriate access point to the transit system.
In addition, if the stops have elements to make the passengers’ wait more pleasant such as trees, seats, and a shelter to protect them from the rain, it is possible to positively influence the perceptions of public transport for the pedestrians and drivers in the surrounding area.
2. "Facilitate Movement, Ease Interactions."
The role that public transport stations can play in a neighborhood goes much further than just being where people get on and off a bus. In fact, if the design and location of the stops are well planned, it is possible to reduce travel times and thus increase confidence in the transit system.
This is possible if the stops become intermodal centers distributed throughout the city that offer public bicycle rentals as well as opportunities for ride shares and other services. By doing so, any investments that are made will benefit the operation of the station and activity at street level.
3. "In-lane Stops Save Time."
Stops in bus-only lanes make it possible to reduce delays for the other traffic by concentrating stops in traffic flow to a single lane. This also offers an opportunity to create a safer space where passengers can board buses more calmly. They also contribute to condensing activity to a single point on the sidewalk without affecting the flow of pedestrians.
4. "Universal Design is Equitable Design."
It’s possible to ensure that differently-abled passengers and people of any age can safely board buses if the bus stops’ designs are people-centered and accessible to all from the outset.
That’s why NACTO believes that intelligent design improves trip experience on public transport not only for those who have reduced mobility, but for all users. Planning a design well from the start can reduce time spent on future overhauls as well as costs for upkeep or accident repairs.
5. "Design for Safety."
NACTO defines having traffic safe and socially safe pedestrian routes from places of origin to stops as an element that is "vital to achieving a safe [transportation] system."
For that same reason, they offer some design elements that help to achieve this, including taking into consideration that the stops be close to areas of all-hours activity, that shelters and stands are seen as places for waiting and human-scale lighting, in other words, light fixtures designed for people and not cars.
In doing so, the organization states that passengers can make better decisions when planning where and when to take public transportation.
6. "Integrate Vehicle and Platform Design."
Designing stops to be level with buses and the sidewalks is a basic feature so that boarding is first and foremost accessible and fast. This situation, which NACTO considers as a key part of any system, requires that they have a flexible design able to be used with different types of buses.