Coming to 25 GoDurham and 25 GoTriangle bus stops early next year is a different kind of seat that is adaptable, more easily installed and more economical, allowing transit agencies to add a greater number of the amenities to improve customer experience for less money over less time.
Rider surveys repeatedly show that bus shelters and benches are important to transit customers, so the agencies looked for ways to make amenity-designated grant money from the Federal Transit Administration go further.
Installing a Simme-Seat bench, which lets two customers sit comfortably facing opposite directions in their own personal space, costs about $1,000 and requires less design work and concrete than typical benches and shelters. Installing a shelter can run more than $18,000.
“The beautiful part about these is they minimize the need to add more concrete to existing sidewalks, and they don’t encroach on the passageway or the Americans with Disabilities Act-required space,” said Eric Simpson, PE, capital projects engineer for both agencies. “When we started looking at it, we saw Charlotte had bought dozens of these, and the footprint is very small. Now that the NCDOT has approved them for use on state-maintained roads in Charlotte, it cuts down on the paperwork for us to install them.”
Between the two seats of a Simme-Seat is a spot for a 2-inch-wide steel post that can accommodate the bus stop sign and a solar light.
“That’s where we’re heading, to eventually get a post in, have the sign mounted and then add a light,” Simpson said. “When we get more comfortable with these, we’ll add more. We’re taking baby steps.”
The 25 GoDurham locations were chosen based on customer interest and ease of installation.
“Another large consideration is minimizing the impact to the environment,” Simpson said. “Even if we put in a 2 by 2 concrete pad, there is an impact to stormwater runoff. So we looked for locations where we could bolt these down on existing concrete and get them to customers more quickly.”
The agencies have ordered the American-made benches and hope for delivery by early January. They also have invited companies to bid on the installation work and anticipate having the first Simme-Seats installed in February, according to Rick Major, PMP, acting director of GoTriangle’s capital development department.
“Our studies have shown that, given the choice between a benchless shelter or just a bench, our customers are always going to opt for a bench,” said Major, who noted that the Simme-Seat is specifically designed to provide seating where it’s not feasible to place a shelter or standard bench.
GoDurham also will use part of the FTA grant money to add bus shelters to five stops.
Major credited the directors of Durham’s Transportation and City-County Planning departments for initiating the “Tactical Transit” approach so seek cost-effective, expedited ways to address critical transportation needs.