Bus Stop Cubes: A place to rest while you wait

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. 

For senior citizens, people with disabilities, and parents with young children, being made to stand for any length of time can be less than ideal. 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 cause anxiety and discomfort.

Our bus system is the only transportation mode that requires its passengers to stand while waiting for the service. Not an ideal situation if we're trying to encourage folks to use public transit.

Why is our bus system the only transportation mode that requires its passengers to stand while waiting for the service? The single biggest issue is the sheer scale of the system. There are thousands of bus stops in the RTS network, and the resources of the transit authority are already spread thin. 

If this issue could be remedied, not only would we make 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 bus stop seating a priority for our community.

A Solution

In 2014, Reconnect Rochester set out to find a solution. What we came up with was a design for a bus stop seat that is a simple 2’x2’x2’ cube. Our bus stop seating cube comes in 4 primary colors (red, green, yellow, and blue) that add beautification and brightness to the street landscape. 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. 

Reconnect Rochester works with RTS, local municipalities and community organizations throughout Monroe County to identify bus stops in the system that are good candidates for a bus stop cube — that is, a stop that lacks seating where the ridership is not enough to warrant a shelter, but it is still well utilized. 

In 2020, Reconnect Rochester began enlisting a local manufacturer to produce the cubes in fiberglass — a nearly indestructible, weather resistant material. The cubes are installed into the hardscape to provide a permanent, year-round amenity for bus riders.

In August 2020, Reconnect Rochester has plans to install the first set of 15 fiberglass cubes on Parsells Avenue, Lyell Avenue and Monroe Avenue. The City of Rochester is a huge partner on the project. Stay tuned to our blog and social media for updates on our current efforts.

Cubes for Your Community

Would you like to see bus stop cubes at stops in YOUR neighborhood or community? Contact us  and we’ll do our best to work with you to make it happen. 

Are you from outside the Monroe County area and interested in purchasing bus stop cubes for your town or city? Contact us and we’ll put you in touch with the manufacturer. Reconnect Rochester receives a sales commission that helps fuel our effort to put more bus stop cubes on the ground locally.


The Bus Cube Birth Story

The bus cube was born in 2014, when Reconnect Rochester set out to come up with a temporary solution to the dearth of seating at local bus stops. Here’s how we did it…

We could just chain a plastic patio chair to a bus stop sign, but to be honest, we're not fans of plastic furniture. And we really don't think the neighbors would appreciate this look very much.

We spent countless hours brainstorming. 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 people 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!

Our bus stop CUBE seat was inspired by ordinary children's blocks.

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 $100 per cube. 

We put pencil to paper and designed a simple 2’x2’x2’ cube to fit easily within areas where space is at a premium.

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.

The idea quickly won community support as well as accolades from RTS which encouraged the effort. Over the next three years (2014 – 2017), in partnership with the City of Rochester, Flower City Habitat for Humanity and many neighborhood and community organizations, we built and placed a fleet of over 30 bus stop cubes at bus stops all around the city. 

This woman says her legs have a tendency to give out on her, and the CUBE is the perfect height for her - not to low to the ground.

The seasonal cubes go out on the street in May and are brought back in and stored in October. As the fleet grew, the job performed by Reconnect Rochester volunteers of placing, removing and storing the cubes each season, became harder to manage. That’s when we decided it was time for a permanent, year-round solution. 

It took about three years (2017 – 2020) of stops-and-starts to research, design and manufacture the fiberglass model that you see today. But we’ll save THAT story for another day.

2 Comments

Can Lower City Speed Limits Make Streets Safer?

In June, the New York State legislature passed a bill to let NYC lower its default limit to 25mph. Lowering speed limits is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio's Vision Zero plan. [PHOTO: Dmitry Gudkov, Flickr]
Posted by: Renee Stetzer, pedestrian safety advocate and blogger at RocVille.com

All across the country, state legislatures are raising speed limits on roadways external link. I think the highest I’ve read about is a tollway in Texas, which is taking on the Autobahn with an 85 mph limit. Highways are getting faster it seems. New York City, however, has been pushing for the authority to lower speed limits on its streets. And in June, the New York State legislature passed a bill to let NYC lower its default limit to 25mph (from the default of 30 mph). Lowering default speed limits on its 6000 miles of roads is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero external link plan to eliminate traffic fatalities by 2024…

Read more

3 Comments

Monroe County Had 2,679 Vehicle Collisions Involving Pedestrians & Cyclists Over Last 4 Years Report Shows

Yet, New York State plans to spend fewer dollars on pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure; advocates call on the Governor to allocate more resources.

In Monroe County (January 1, 2009 - December 31, 2012) pedestrians were involved in 1,479 vehicle crashes and 1,200 involved bicyclists.
According to state data, there were 2,679 vehicle collisions with pedestrians or bicyclists in Monroe County over a four-year period from January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2012. Using the New York State Department of Transportation’s Accident Data Files, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a non-profit transportation policy watchdog organization, found that pedestrians were involved in 1,479 of these collisions and 1,200 involved bicyclists.1 Thirty-three of these collisions were fatal (28 pedestrian collisions and 5 bicyclist collisions). The City of Rochester had the highest number of collisions (1,614) and the town of Greece the second highest (215)…

Read more

3 Comments

Rochester’s (inspiring) Old Railroad Stations

*Cross Posted by RochesterSubway.com

The interior of Rochester's missing rail station. The main waiting room with high arching windows and ornate ceiling would rival New York's Grand Central Station if it were around today.Lots of news has been brewing lately over the future of Rochester’s beat-up, 32-year-old Amtrak station on Central Avenue.

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter recently announced that a $1.5 million federal stimulus grant has been awarded to New York state to plan for a new multi-modal station on the site. A $2.5 million appropriation to pay for the station design is expected to pass Congress next month. And Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo has just made it abundantly clearexternal link that New York will take whatever federal money is left on the table by newly elected GOP governors in Ohio and Wisconsin.

So for now, let’s just assume that something very interesting is in the works for our pitiful excuse for a train station. This is the perfect time to take a step back in time—to be inspired by Rochester’s grand old stations…

Read more

No Comments

John Robert Smith in Rochester

*Cross Posted by the Moderate Urban Champion

John Robert SmithMembers of Reconnect Rochester had a unique opportunity Monday afternoon.  We were invited to sit in and participate in a roundtable discussion featuring representation of the Genesee Transportation Council, the Empire State Passengers Association, the Rochester Rail Transit Committee, and the keynote speaker of that evening’s lecture, John Robert Smith.

Not all of the biggest statements came from Smith himself, but his insight into federal agencies and funding acquisition from said agencies was very valuable to our coalition. Also heartening was the recognition by all parties of potential energy realities. This acceptance set the imperative tone regarding the necessity for improved transit in the region.

Smith’s greatest criticism, one that was repeated during the public lecture, was a lack of obvious attraction marketing, and the associated transportation options, to downtown hotel guests and travelers who arrive by train. The implication is that we aren’t successfully steering travelers with money to spend to restaurants and other cultural amenities. A set of newer signage as part of an enhanced wayfinder system was installed recently, but it is proving to be geared toward motorized tourist travel.

Read more

3 Comments

Roll Up Your Sleeves. Let’s Reconnect Rochester.

Posted by: Mike Governale, co-founder of Reconnect Rochester.
Don't confuse her with Rosie the Riveter. The model for this WWII poster is actually Geraldine Doyle. We're borrowing this powerful illustration from Howard J. Miller to help us Reconnect Rochester.Hopefully by now you’ve read Rochester’s Case for a Streetcar Line. If you haven’t, go read it. Go on, I’ll wait.

…Okay great, now here’s an update. Since that article, traffic to RochesterSubway.com has doubled, our Facebook fan club external link has grown from 100 to over 400 (and counting), and my inbox hasn’t had a moments rest. This is all very encouraging and a sure sign that the people of Rochester really want to see their city thrive. The big question is; do the people of Rochester care enough to make an effort? All signs point to yes. So far we’ve got 12 people (including myself) who have risen to the challenge. Together we will lead a city wide movement to Reconnect Rochester.

Last Saturday morning, one day after a northeast blizzard moved thru our area, 5 passionate Rochesterians dug there way out of their homes and met me for lunch at Legend’s Bar & Grill. Against the backdrop of a bus-lined Main Street we introduced ourselves and got right down to swapping ideas about how we could help put Rochester back on track—pun intended…

Read more

5 Comments

Rochester’s Case for a Streetcar Line

The following article was published at RochesterSubway.com on 2010/02/16. Two weeks later 6 citizens got together and Reconnect Rocheseter was born.

Photo simulation of a new Rochester streetcar on Main Street.

America seems to have taken a renewed interest in mobility. Maybe due to President Obama’s recent commitment to high speed rail—or perhaps the positive results seen in towns like Portland and Denver have caught our collective attention. Whatever the reason, from the top down, people are rethinking our automobile-oriented culture—and getting excited about the possibilities.

There’s also good reason to focus on transportation as a way of jump-starting economic development. Industry requires access to people. And people need to have easy access to centers of employment. Continually improving access makes further development possible. Interrupting access will have the opposite effect. Likewise, doing nothing or simply maintaining existing infrastructure for an extended period of time will also hinder development.

For 30+ years Rochester has relied on the infrastructure choices it made in the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s. At that time we made development choices that encouraged our population to emigrate from the downtown core. We scrapped our extensive streetcar system, choked off downtown with the construction of the inner-loop, and paved super highways to take us from the city to the NY State Thruway and beyond. Since then that’s exactly where our money, our workforce, and our future have gone—down I-490 and out of state.

Read more