What Could You Do With This Bus Shelter?

April 7th, 2014

Rochester's cool retro-style bus shelters will be history by this time next year unless someone steps forward to claim them. [PHOTO: RocPX.com]
By this time next year, Rochester’s cool retro-style bus shelters could be history. When the RTS Transit Center opens in November, RTS buses that currently wait for passengers along Main Street will instead turn into the new facility on Mortimer Street. And after 25 years of service, six shelters from the Genesee River to Chestnut Street will be removed.

There is one thing that could save these iconic structures from the scrap yard: Your creativity.

Rochester's cool retro-style bus shelters will be history by this time next year unless someone steps forward to claim them. [PHOTO: Sharon Drummond]
The City of Rochester, in partnership with Reconnect Rochester, has agreed to consider any serious proposal to adapt or use these bus shelters in some way. The only limitation is the imagination of the people of Rochester. So grab a pencil and sketch up your idea. Here are a few thoughts to get the juices flowing…

These shelters have power, are lighted, and at one time were even heated. They could make the perfect location for a coffee & newsstand, or some other type of street vendor. Check out this former bus shelter turned coffee kiosk external link in Portland…

A former bus shelter turned coffee kiosk in Portland, OR. [PHOTO: Hennebery Eddy Architects, Inc.]
[see in Google streetview external link]

OR… perhaps a covered bike corral? These shelters could provide a place to lock up a dozen (or more) bikes.

A covered bike corral, also in Portland, OR. [PHOTO: Mark Stosberg]

How about a little green along Main Street… Can you see urban greenhouses, lush arbors, or maybe a flower shop?

Why not urban greenhouses on Main Street? [PHOTO: dljunkinslandscaping.com]

Or a little free library?

An urban library [PHOTO: Endellion Blog]

A visitor information booth?

A little art gallery?

Perhaps you just want to turn one into a sculpture or public artwork?

Whatever your idea, write it up, include a drawing or two, and send it to info@reconnectrochester.org along with your contact information and a brief explanation. And if you have an idea but can’t draw—no problem—contact us anyway or drop a comment below. No idea is too crazy!

• • •

You might ask, “Why not move these to other bus stops around the city that could use shelters?”

Reconnect Rochester did meet with the City of Rochester about this. It was our first thought too. But because of the way these shelters are built and their physical size, they would be very difficult (and very expensive) to relocate. And there’d be no guarantee that they’d be able to be put back together. These shelters were designed specifically for these sites and are sunk into concrete below the sidewalk pavers. So we determined the best thing to do would be to leave them in place, and find new uses for them.

• • •

About the Bus Shelters

These Main Street shelters were designed by the firm Johnson, Johnson and Roy (Detroit) as part of the Main Street Improvement Project c.1986-1989. [IMAGES: Democrat and Chronicle, and Rochester Times Union]
These Main Street shelters were designed by the firm Johnson, Johnson and Roy (Detroit) as part of the Main Street Improvement Project c.1986-1989. The 26 Million dollar project was a complete reconstruction and included new streets, sewers, filling old vaults beneath the sidewalk, construction of new sidewalks, and the installation of a transit mall. The Main Street transit mall was loosely modeled after the Nicollet pedestrian mall in Minneapolis, MN. According to the Rochester Times-Union (4/15/1985), Rochester Transit Corporation unveiled the first drawings of a “transit mall” concept in 1959.

Since 1989 the shelters have kept millions of people protected from the wind, rain, snow, sleet, and anything else nature could throw at them. One shelter (in front of the Liberty Pole) has already been removed, but there are six left…

Main Street at Radisson external link
Approximate Dimensions: 30′ L x 9′ W x 11′ H
Big Doorway: 7′ W x 7′ 3″ H
Small Doorway: 3′ W x 7′ 3″ H

Main Street at Riverside Convention Center external link
Approximate Dimensions: 30′ L x 9′ W x 11′ H
Big Doorway: 7′ W x 7′ 3″ H
Small Doorway: 3′ W x 7′ 3″ H

Main Street at Chase Tower external link
Approximate Dimensions: 40′ L x 13′ W x 13′ H
Big Doorway: 7′ W x 7′ 3″ H
Small Doorway: 3′ W x 7′ 3″ H

Main Street at Maint & Clinton external link
Approximate Dimensions: 40′ L x 13′ W x 13′ H
Big Doorway: 7′ W x 7′ 3″ H
Small Doorway: 3′ W x 7′ 3″ H

Main Street at Sibley Building external link
(this one has already been removed)

Main Street at University Place external link
Approximate Dimensions: 30′ L x 9′ W x 11′ H
Big Doorway: 7′ W x 7′ 3″ H
Small Doorway: 3′ W x 7′ 3″ H

Main Street at Stillson Street external link
Approximate Dimensions: 30′ L x 9′ W x 11′ H
Big Doorway: 7′ W x 7′ 3″ H
Small Doorway: 3′ W x 7′ 3″ H

If it helps, here’s a drawing of one of the larger shelters.
(right-click and save to your computer)…

A profile drawing of one of the larger bus shelters.

• • •

Submit Your Idea

Write up your idea, include a drawing or two, and send it to info@reconnectrochester.org along with your contact information and a brief explanation. And if you have an idea but can’t draw—no problem—contact us anyway. No idea is too crazy.

There’s not a specific deadline, but these shelters will most likely be gone by the end of the year if we don’t act very quickly.

Your proposal should include some basic information:

49 Responses to “What Could You Do With This Bus Shelter?”

  1. admin says:

    Many people are asking why not move them to other bus stops around the city that could use shelters?

    We did meet with the City of Rochester about this. It was our first thought too. But because of the way these shelters are built and their physical size, they would be very difficult (and very expensive) to relocate & reassemble. We determined the best thing to do would be to leave them in place, and find new uses for them.

  2. We’d be interested in looking into the possibility to turn them into Mini Juan And Maria’s Empanada Stop similar to what we’ve successfully ran at the Rochester Public Market for the past 14 years

  3. admin says:

    Hello Juan! That sounds like an excellent (and very tasty) idea. If you’re serious, please email us at info@reconnectrochester.org.

  4. Marisa says:

    The could make something for kids near the transit center, put swings inside or little slides, jungle gyms. Parents would have something to keep the little ones entertained while they wait. They could put a couple elipticals or treadmills inside make little mini gyms that could be free to the public and get out city in better shape. Make them into little green houses and provide food for people in need.

  5. Wayne says:

    Place them in various parks, with picnic tables..

  6. Dorothy Paige says:

    I think that mini-stores that can be used by non-profits to sell crafts, veggies, plants, library books. They can be used for a week at a time to provide info about their programs. They can also conduct lunchtime seminars on money management ,home ownership, urban gardening, healthy meals. Maybe lunchtime concerts by student from Eastman.

    I also like the idea of mimi-restaurants
    Maybe they can set up small carts with coffee and teas
    I also like the greenhouse ideas

  7. Kenneth Ferrer says:

    I’m a architecture student over at RIT and I’m trying to gauge the interest over here with other students and professors in the program to see if we could collaborate with you guys and incorporate a re-use design into the coursework or as a side project.

  8. admin says:

    @Kenneth, we’d LOVE to see what RIT students could come up with. Keep us posted!

  9. Christine says:

    I’m loving these ideas, especially the bike shelters and mini fitness stations, food vending sites, and arts/crafts vending. How about newsstands, an RTS service center (e.g. buy your bus pass), temporary mini galleries for local museums and art galleries, pop-up college recruitment stands, make-your-own-art stations…

    I can’t wait to see what they become!

  10. Matthew McDermott says:

    Okay, so perhaps my contribution isn’t as imaginative as some of the above suggestions, but how about a public restroom for one or two of these? I realize there’s no plumbing there presently but in London they have these interesting pay public toilets that clean themselves after each use. It definitely makes things more pedestrian friendly. Here’s a link with some details: http://streetsblog.net/2010/10/12/the-pay-toilet-coming-soon-to-a-street-corner-near-you/

  11. Mike Kolepp says:

    When I lived in Turin, Italy similar structures were used as Ice Cream (Gelato) or Coffee Kiosks. They were very popular among the Public transportation crowd and pedestrian traffic around the shopping district. In England they also were used a Kiosks for coffee, and quick refreshments near or at the underground and light train stations. I would think they could also be used as display and promotional places for the Eastman Theatre, Roch Museum and Science Center…..

  12. Timothy McDonough says:

    They should be relocated to Highland Park as permanent structures and rented to vendors for the Lilac Festival, This would provide a revenue stream to the county on a continuing basis.

  13. Lewis says:

    As part of the 1st phase of the GardenAerial at High Falls and a re-imagined Granite Mills Park, we envision re-purposing of one of these truly unique architecturally significant shelters as a band-shell. The shelter could easily be re-adapted and would continue to benefit the public. The shelter design and purpose would be carefully integrated into the design features of the FlourGarden project What a truly special opportunity.

  14. Erin says:

    Recycle them as shelters at the Public Market.

  15. Julie B says:

    What about a covered bicycle repair hub, similar to the service stands–something that lets cyclists come in out of the rain to fix a flat, repair a spoke, or fill up a low-flat tire? I wonder, too, if a local bike shop might be interested in sponsoring a shelter, providing some basic things like new tubes, repair kits, blinkeys in a high security “bike fixation” vending machine.

  16. Alex W. says:

    I like the idea of something bike related too. Perhaps R-community bikes would like to use one as a satellite repair station on certain days…

  17. I’m with Lewis, to an extent. I have thought about the potential of repurposing them as greenhouses, but I also see value in the potential of maybe a ‘Farmacy’, maybe work with Foodlink, the Good Food Collective, or maybe even Hart’s Local Grocer. I would put my money, if I had any, into a Farmacy! :)

  18. admin says:

    These are all terrific ideas. No shortage of creativity in Rochester, for sure. We’ll need you all to reach out to any organization you think might be interested in submitting a proposal.

    There’s not a deadline, per se, but these shelters will be gone by the end of the year if we don’t act very quickly.

    Send proposals to info@reconnectrochester.org and include:

    • Name(s)
    • Business or organization name
    • Contact information
    • Specify which shelter(s) you would like to use
    • State the purpose you would use the shelter for
    • When you could start using it
    • The length of time you’d use it for
    • Any other relevant details
    • And any illustrations or drawings that might help explain your idea

  19. John Thomas says:

    I’ve not given up on relocating them–yet. It just means we need a public entity or private business/institution (perhaps RGRTA itself if it is used as a bus shelter at another location such as up at the Port of Rochester) to pay for the $60,000 relocation costs. As with reuse of the Aqueduct (tho on a much smaller scale), we need OPERATORS who will maintain and use them. I hope all the good ideas for reuse, include an operator/investor.

    I wonder how we can best reach out to the business community (another horses on parade campaign?) especially the small business community.

    Keep those good ideas coming.

  20. Michael Hardy says:

    “Bus-kar Stops” for Busking Perofrmers

    Put in mini stages and allow artists, performers and especially musicians (pro, semi pro and students (all ages)) sign up for one hour shows from 7a-11p every day and night of the week/weekend! Artists make money, Downtown has great gathering places and we highlight talent and walkability of downtown.
    Hochstein, Eastman School and SOTA are at least three sources for these artists!

    I think you pair them up with pop up retailers and or food truck/street vendors for a nice mix.

  21. Joshua says:

    Some could be used as drop off donation sites for the needy of Rochester

  22. Justin says:

    I second the idea for small public performance space. I think that is a great idea!

  23. Mary says:

    How about donating these bus shelters to local schools to use to grow healthy fruits & vegetables?
    They would make wonderful little greenhouses!

  24. Mary says:

    I love the idea for public restrooms!

  25. Julie says:

    Super interview on WROC, you guys!!

  26. admin says:

    Thanks Julie!
    For anyone who didn’t see the interview, you can watch it here… http://bit.ly/1gAtP3x

  27. How about a “Community resource Parent Center, where parents could pick up literature of different community agencies daycare, WEP, drug programs, before and after school programs etc… located in their area.

  28. Kevin Yost says:

    I say remove and dispose of the roofs, make them one-sided with the backs, and move the panels of the fronts and sides to other sidewalks along Main Street and other streets in downtown, and use glass paint to paint art work on them by arts groups and also paint traffic signal boxes in downtown as well.

  29. Mike Gilbert says:

    What happened to the 7th shelter from the Liberty Pole that was removed?

  30. Nick says:

    Does Rochester have a dedicated visitors and tourism center? I think one of the larger shelters could be a good brochure gazebo that could be very visible for people traveling on Main St. Also, a little off topic, but are the “bus only” lanes staying in place along Main? And if not, how about maybe creating Rochester’s first protected cycle track there?

  31. Nancy Raca says:

    I’d like to see one become an ecumenical chapel where people could find a bit of peace and serenity during the workday. It could be staffed in the morning and evening rush hours by local pastors and seminarians and we could offer communion and prayer, as well as resources for people looking for a faith community or other connections to help with their daily problems. When it’s not staffed, it could be a meditation chapel.

  32. admin says:

    Nancy (and all),
    These are terrific ideas. The ideas that will stand the best chance of being accomplished are those that have dedicated people behind them – people willing and able to help make them real. If you think your idea could work, please help us by pulling together partners or finding an organization or business to take ownership of the idea. Send them to this page and have them submit a proposal to info@reconnectrochester.org. Proposals should include some basic information:

    • Name(s)
    • Business or organization name
    • Contact information
    • Your idea… how would you like to use the shelter(s)
    • Would you or your company be involved the implementation of your idea?
    – If yes, in what capacity?
    – If no, do you have suggestions on who might want to be involved?
    • Is there a specific shelter(s) you would like to use? Which ones?
    • Do you have a budget in mind?
    • Can you identify funding sources?
    • When would you want to start using the shelter?
    • What length of time would it be used for?
    • Include any other relevant details
    • If possible, attach an illustration/photo that might help explain your idea

  33. Benjamin says:

    I think that almost all of these ideas are viable. The one thing that I would say is that there should definitely be a mix of uses for the shelters. Definitely a news/coffee stand (worldwide news would probably be interested) and a bike shelter. Possibly a bike rental station instead of a bike shelter? I think the demand is definitely there for a bike rental program in Rochester- especially with the ever-expanding bike lane system- and the station in the shelter could be the main hub. I would love to initiate this and have creative ideas for obtaining funding for the start-up costs but don’t know what licenses/permits etc. would be needed to do so.
    Also, if Juan and Maria are able to put an empanada stop (or two or three hundred) downtown, we all win. Who doesn’t love their product? I proudly rock the “I’m Addicted” bumper sticker on my car and frequently see others as I’m driving.
    Another possible idea would be to have a rental vending stand like they have at Greece Ridge mall in the new wing. It could be rented out to local businesses on a weekly or even daily basis. Great idea for a new company looking to introduce their product or for a well-established company to reach a broader market. It could be something that could accommodate a wide variety of businesses from clothing to cupcakes. I think a lot of suburban businesses would like that idea as well.
    The biggest tragedy would be to tear these beautiful structures down. We look back on the destruction of historic structures with disdain (heck, we’re filling part of the inner loop back in to attempt to amend that mistake) so it seems counter-intuitive to destroy such wonderful assets as the bus shelters.

  34. Benjamin says:

    And I would stay away from a chapel or anything with religious overtones. Religion should stay where it currently is: in places of worship. Some might view it as comforting but others might be offended and feel like religion is being thrown in their faces.

  35. Connor Jane O'Brien says:

    Flower shop franchises — Kabloom has them at some T-stops in Boston, and some offer employment to Veterans, who staff them. What could be better for the Flower City?

    Bike sharing is so big in Boston, NYC, and Chicago — why not here? Contact bike shops, Greentopia, etc. How did they do it in Chicago?

    Why not use one shelter as the starting point for an On/Off tour bus that could run a Rochester circuit?
    Rochester needs a way for guests (and locals) to easily get from downtown to The Eastman House, the Susan B. Anthony House, Mt. Hope Cemetary, the site where the North Star was published, Ontario Beach, Festival sites, colleges, etc.
    Rochester probably could not sustain “Duck” Boats (although how cool woudl it be to hear a group echo under the Memorial Bridge?) but we need at least some way for conventioners to explore easily?
    There must be at least 10 places in Rochester that would warrant a stop? Freshman parents and alumni could be offered reduced rates for Parents Weekends, Orientation, Homecoming, Graduation? Hotels could package this for festival weekends?
    Museums could offer package tickets for a weekend (like they do in Cooperstown) If Cooperstown can support an On/Off tourbus circuit surely Rochester can!

    ANYTHING that promotes walking. One or two for Public toilets; others for coffee/emanada/food; information at each; Blue light security phones?

  36. Kevin Yost says:

    At least some of the soon-to-be-outdated bus shelters along Main Street in downtown should be moved to the sites of the former enclosures to stairways to the former Rochester Subway along West Broad Street and the glass painted with historic scenes of the subway and Erie Canal that were once there. The rest should be taken apart with the ends and walls left where they are on some and moved elsewhere along downtown sidewalks with the roofs repurposed for the seats and backings of new benches to be installed in downtown parks, and all used as glass-painted art canvases.

  37. Jim Wilkins says:

    You might consider relocating bus shelters to Charlotte and possibly an unused Kodak parking lot on Lake Ave. when the Charlotte Shuttle is necessary in the future. If plans for the area are completed, the high and low income residents will likely use up most of the area to park their cars and boats, not leaving much space to park for non-resident visitors. This would then create the need for out of area parking, thus the need for a seasonal low fare shuttle service. Just thinking ahead!

  38. Kevin Yost says:

    This morning’s D&C also says that they want six new bus shelter’s at UofR’s new College Town. Perhaps, those along Main Street could be relocated there for such purpose.

  39. Nancy Raca says:

    Mike, did you meet with the city? How did it go?

  40. admin says:

    Not yet. Scheduling a meeting with the City is proving more difficult than we thought.

  41. Gretha Suarez says:

    Thank you for announcing this, I think it is a wonderful opportunity. I am currently interning in the Zoning and Planning Department of the City. Who are you contacting from the City about this project? or With what department are you trying to set the meeting?

  42. gary mccamy says:

    I think it is an incredible idea to reuse these aesthetically pleasant structures. We need to increase the positive foot traffic in downtown Rochester and Retail is what we are lacking. Whether coffee, food, news, art or other almost ANY reuse would be better than sending them to the junk yard. Probably the most expensive item would be plumbing but it should be fairly conveniently located below the sidewalk so just break out those saws. It also could be a revenue stream for the city as we know they are always looking for money. As a Retail Architect for a large downtown firm I would be glad to donate some time to further investigate the potential of each individual structure.

  43. wm gary mccamy says:

    One of the things that I could forsee is having these available for “Pop UP Shops” where one could test their concept for a retail business on a micro scale before going all in. Obviously I would not reserve them all for this purpose but one or two in a prime location could be rented out on a short term basis. Once one sees that their concept is successful they then could take down space in one of the up and coming city projects such as the Sibley Building or the Mid-Town Mixed Use project.


  44. Jeannette says:

    Has there been any updates as to what’s happening to the stops?

  45. admin says:

    Sorry for the silence… We are working on a plan with the City of Rochester and hope to have news to share in a month or two. Stay tuned by following us on Facebook or sign up for our enewsletter here… http://reconnectrochester.org/follow

  46. […] Love walking through cities like NYC because of the creativity, diversity, and wide variety of fun little kiosks and carts? Get creative with an empty bus shelter on Main Street! Check out the Reconnect Rochester article from last year: What Could You Do With This Shelter? […]

  47. Marco says:

    How about walk up beer tents. That way we can watch the fight and enjoy a brewski.

  48. What Rochester can do with its bus shelter? Make them shelters again and create a viable public transportation system.
    Sell the freaking transit center and use the money to rebuild a viable public transportation system that will serve the public better, reduce wear and tear on our roads, and reduce greenhouse gases that cause Climate Change.
    Create more bus shelters with more public transportation options, including an easily read and dependable schedules so folks know they will get to work on time. Just got back from Portland, Oregon and they know transportation. http://en.wikipedia.org/…/Transportation_in_Portland,_Oregon
    You don’t build great big transit center that every bus rider has to go to whether they want to or not. You get more bikes on the road with clear street markings and a big campaign to inform drivers and bicyclist how to use this system safely. You fix up the sidewalks, treat pedestrians with respect and clear sidewalks during the winter so those without cars don’t have to be homebound for six months. You practice extreme curtesy everywhere. You create bus routes so that you don’t have to go to the center of the city to go to the next street over.
    You prepare for Climate Change by reducing greenhouse gases from your transportation system by developing transportation options that adapt to the new reality, instead of this dysfunctional system we have here in Rochester that is maidenly going in the wrong direction.
    More on Transportation in our area: http://rochesterenvironment.com/communting.htm

  49. Kevin F. Yost says:

    This gentleman named Neal from Broad Street, LLC showed me some ideas of interactive videos and holograms for the Broad Street tunnel. Maybe, they would be better for the old Main Street bus shelters and have the shelter panels painted in the themes.

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