What Is a Bus Shelter? Definition, Meaning and Concept

A bus shelter is an enclosed waiting area located near a bus station or stop that can come in a variety of layouts and functions. The simplest bus shelter might simply have a back wall and two side walls with a bench or two to sit on while waiting for a bus. Others are much larger, may be constructed of various materials, and may have multiple benches. Plexiglass is a common choice as you can see through it to see when your bus is coming.

Large shelters are common at major transfer stations, where many people will be waiting to change buses or board a bus, or can be found at central bus stations where people can take a variety of bus routes. They can be useful, when well-maintained, for protection against inclement weather, particularly rain or snow, although some of them can get very hot if not sufficiently ventilated or insulated.

Before you cheer up and throw away your umbrella, keep in mind that buses that make many stops don't always have bus stops at every stop. You might have a bank, if you're lucky, but don't have a bus shelter unless you're taking a bus from an area frequently used by other passengers. For example, some bus routes in San Francisco stop every two blocks, but only a few of these stops, where most people board the bus, have shelters.

There are many companies that specialize in the design of bus shelters, and cities or transit organizations can work with a company to get a specific uniform design throughout the city, or to coordinate the appearance of the shelter with the surrounding architecture. For example, a city may find a haven near a mall that seems more attractive if it resembles the architectural style or theme of that mall. Ambition, design and cost all play into the city planners or transit authorities deciding what a bus shelter will look like. Consideration of the climate in the area and the number of regular passengers can help determine how many bus shelters should be erected.

An unfortunate sign of urban decay is the frequent deterioration of bus shelters and the frequent damage to property that can be caused by less than perfect citizens. In larger cities, graffiti is quite common on the walls of shelters, and you should always look before sitting on a bench to avoid sitting on your gums. Some bus shelters have trash cans so waiting passengers don't get dirty, but these require maintenance to keep the shelter in good shape. If a city has a lot of shelters, it may not always be able to keep up with property damage, and older shelters in big cities can look and smell very unclean.

When cities can properly maintain each bus shelter and make them attractive to passengers, this can increase the willingness of people to take the bus. This can be an advantage for a city, as bus passengers reduce traffic congestion and pollution. A well-planned transportation system with convenient and clean bus stops can be a great thing.