Anyone who has ever used public transportation in Rochester is painfully aware of two things: At some point will have to wait for your bus, and when you do, you will probably be standing. But now, Reconnect Rochester is aiming to come up with a solution…
Why is our bus system is the only transportation mode that requires its passengers to stand while waiting for the service? This is partly due to the sheer scale of the system. There are thousands of bus stops in the RTS network, and the resources of the transit authority are spread thin. But let’s face it, this is also a matter of priorities.
For senior citizens, people with disabilities, and parents with young children, being made to stand for any length of time is not an ideal situation. Even for those passengers who are physically capable of standing, having no place to sit while waiting on the side of a busy roadway can make people feel anxious, and generally unpleasant.
If this issue could be remedied, not only would we be making the lives of current riders a little easier, but we might also encourage more people to use public transportation. This is why Reconnect Rochester has decided to make this a priority for our community.
A Design Challenge
We scoured the internet. And we even met with a local furniture designer, Staach (we really admire the way those guys balance form, function, and sustainability). But we needed something that would be relatively inexpensive and easy for regular peoples like us to build and duplicate. It would also need to be compact, sturdy, and weather resistant.
We could have simply taken a page from the guerilla bus stop seating playbook and chained a plastic patio chair to a bus stop sign, but to be honest, we’re not fans of plastic furniture. And we really didn’t think the neighbors would appreciate this look very much.
Then one day, almost like it happens in the movies,
the solution hit us like a lightning bolt…
Good old-fashioned children’s blocks!
It’s amazing how sometimes the best ideas are inspired by the simplest things. Children’s blocks. Durable, easy to use, easy to construct – and what could possibly be more fun? Quite fitting for Rochester, the home of the National Toy Hall of Fame !
Construction & Materials
We put pencil to paper and designed a simple 2’x2’x2’ cube. The compact size allows the seat to fit easily within areas where space is at a premium – such as tree lawns or that little bit of space between the street curb and sidewalk.
Our prototype was constructed using pressure-treated lumber and decking materials for a total cost of about $60 per cube*. Of course, this design also has the potential to be adapted and constructed using other, longer-lasting or more durable materials such as plastic, fiberglass, or metal. But for now, we think this will do just fine.
The materials list below will build TWO cubes (since one sheet of plywood is 4’x8′ this enables us to make 2 cubes with virtually no wasted material). These items can all be found at your local home center or hardware store…
- Plywood or underlayment (x1)
- Pressure Treated 2×4, 8ft length (x6)
- Pressure Treated 5/4×6, 8ft length (x2)
- 4ft Chain (x2)
- Quick Link Chain Clip (x2)
- 1/4×4″ Eye Bolt with Nut (x2)
- 3″ Deck Screws (x96)
- 1 1/4″ Deck Screws (x32)
Okay, so they look great, but how will they work?
We tested the prototypes at two locations within the city of Rochester: The PriceRite at Dewey & Driving Park and N. Union St. at the Public Market. The results were very positive. Interviews with transit riders and passersby can be viewed in this video .
These woman had just finished shopping and were waiting for their #10 bus when we offered them a seat. One of the women told us that when she’s waiting for her bus, sometimes her legs give out. And she says the bus stop cube is the perfect height for her. She said many of the standard benches throughout the city are actually too low for her to get up out of easily.
And this woman said she was overjoyed when she saw the little green cube seat. Because of this small improvement, she felt like “the system” was actually thinking of her. We had to tell her we were not with the Transit Authority. But we do know RTS is listening and watching.
Reconnect Rochester aims to work with RTS, municipalities, property-owners, and community organizations throughout Monroe County to identify bus stops where it may make sense to add seating. Tell us where you’d like to see a bus stop seat by leaving a comment below, or pinning the location on this interactive map .
We need YOUR help
We are looking for neighborhood groups, property owners or businesses owners who are interested in helping us place a cube seat at a bus stop near them.
We’re also looking for sponsors/donors who can help pay for materials or donate work space and/or helping hands to build cubes.
If you would like to help, please contact us at info@ReconnectRochester.org. You can also call 585-340-7555 (leave a brief message and your contact info).
Or make a tax-deductible contribution to Reconnect Rochester today, and help us move this idea (and others) forward in 2015.
After this story dropped, many individuals and organizations have contacted us about teaming up to bring cubes to their neighborhoods! Rochester Transit Service (RTS) has officially thrown their support behind the cubes. We’ve also worked with Rochester School for the Deaf, Charles House Neighbors in Action, 19th Ward Community Association, Joseph Avenue Business Association, Genesee Corridor Business Association, Corn Hill Neighborhood Association and The Strong National Museum of Play. Read more here: Bus Stop Cubes Are Winning Community Support
*The cost of materials has increased since this article was posted. The total cost per cube will vary depending on the deals you can find at your local lumber yard today and how many cubes are built at one time. We’ve also made improvements to our cube design by upgrading some of the materials we use. Contact us or leave a comment below and we can work with you on your specific project.