Halifax Doesn’t Care About Bus Stops

Halifax Doesn’t Care About Bus Stops

Every bus ride begins and ends at a bus stop. It’s the first point of contact riders have with Halifax Transit’s service. In Halifax it’s usually not a great first impression. Our bus stops aren’t just ‘not good enough’ – in fact a lot of our most important bus stops are a negative experience for riders. They don’t provide enough comfort, information, or both.

No shelter or too little shelter:

Halifax is a city with cold, wet winters and hot, dry summers. Despite this, many major stops and terminals lack proper shelter or even shade for riders to protect themselves from weather. Stops fortunate enough to have a shelter usually only have a single structure that fits 3-4 people at best, despite collecting upwards of a dozen passengers at times. For Halifax Transit, where many routes run late, having to wait an extra 5 minutes for your bus in the cold rain or heat of summer is a great argument to use other methods of travel for your next trip.

Too few benches:

You would expect a place to sit after a long day while you wait for your bus to be a basic amenity that could be easily installed at any bus stop. Yet in Halifax, being able to sit while you wait for your bus is a luxury reserved for very few stops. Standing on the sidewalk is by far the normal experience for Halifax Transit riders.

Growing up in the suburbs, I would sit on the curb of the road while waiting for the bus because there was no bench or shelter. Now I live downtown and do the same waiting for my bus along Windsor because there aren’t any downtown either.” – a complaint from a Halifax Transit user.

Poor signage & wayfinding:

At best, our bus stop signs are average to mediocre. At their worst not only do they lack critical information for riders, but show a complete lack of care for proper wayfinding for riders. A good bus stop will provide the following information:

  • What is the name of the route?
  • What direction is the route travelling?
  • How frequent does the bus run?
  • What destinations does the route serve?

In Halifax, a highly used bus stop downtown has just a single sign that looks like this:

Just a bunch on numbers, stuck on and scraped off. No consistency in font sizes or explanation if they mean anything or not. Couldn’t even be bothered to order them numerically, and the route 182 is there twice for no reason. In fact, all bus stops along Barrington, Halifax’s main downtown corridor show this complete lack of care.

Many people use the bus for a variety of trips including destinations they may not be familiar with. People new to the city or even just the bus network can easily get lost trying to understand our patchwork wayfinding. Google Maps and Transit Apps are not a solution to this problem. Not everyone has data, not everyone has a smart phone, and not everyone will be willing to download an app that collects personal information just to ride public transit. Even with a transit app, it’s nice to have basic information to confirm you’ve found the right stop.

How can we get better bus stops in Halifax?

Halifax Transit knows how to make a better bus stop. We won’t bother mocking up a better stop sign as multiple design students and advocates have already done it. Do we lack funding? Considering Halifax Transit spent almost $200,000 in 2016 on a complete overhaul of bus stop signs (excluding the costs of decals & hardware) for what we have today, that can’t be the case. The truth is Halifax Transit just doesn’t care about making the transit experience for riders better. If they can’t be bothered to tackle the low hanging fruit such as ordering routes in numerical order on signs, using consistent fonts for stickers, removing duplicate route numbers from signs, etc. how could we possibly expect them to care enough to make big, meaningful  changes for riders’ experiences taking Transit?

If you’ve ridden the bus in Halifax at least once, chances are you’ve experienced a bad bus stop. Don’t let your complaints go to waste: share your transit feedback with us and let’s highlight the stories of Halifax Transits riders.