More than 20 residents and volunteers gathered on Saturday morning to build benches for public bus stops in north Charlotte. Sustain Charlotte organized the event in partnership with the Prosperity Village Area Association to demonstrate the power of residents to make low-cost improvements to their neighborhoods, as well as to advocate for funding of more bus stop amenities throughout Charlotte.
Volunteers spent two hours upcycling wooden pallets into benches, then installed them near a bus stop on Ridge Road. Temporary green and white paint was applied to the sidewalk to make the rider waiting area more visible.
Although bus stops and shelters are not as highly valued by riders as trip speed and frequency, these amenities are very important to riders (Who’s On Board 2016). All CATS bus stops have poles with signs noting which routes serve the stop, but many do not have shelters or benches.
Sustain Charlotte and the neighborhood partners believe that demonstration projects like this one are a powerful way to show government staff and elected officials that people will use bus stops if they are walkable, accessible, and comfortable.
The Ridge Road stop where the benches were installed serves CATS routes 22 (Graham Street) and 53X (Northlake Express). Intense retail and residential development has occurred in the area recently. A new multifamily property across the street is nearing completion. Within ten minutes of installing the benches, a bus rider was seen sitting on one while waiting for a bus
This build event is part of Sustain Charlotte’s Walk2Transit project, funded by TransitCenter. Walk2Transit is an 18-month project using crowd-sourced mapping of bus stops that are hard to walk to, bus stop walkability audits with volunteers, and demonstration projects to advocate for a better waking experience to bus stops across Charlotte.