Thanks to a very dramatic contract dispute, LA bus riders are slowly getting new benches! The new seats are a nice green (rather than brown), somewhat graffiti resistant (as opposed to blank canvases), and a bit more frictiony (as opposed to slippery slopes). However, as urban designer Deborah Murphy says to Alissa Walker in LA Weekly, "it's still a billboard with a seat." That's because bus bench deals in LA are all basically advertising deals: "Advertising companies, not the city, install the benches and shelters and share the revenue with the city?" Furthermore, "The advertising companies, not the city, choose the location. Naturally, ad companies want eyeballs in higher-income neighborhoods, so that's where the bulk of the benches go -- not in the lower-income neighborhoods that are more transit-dependent."
Last summer, contractor Norman Bench Advertising started ripping out its brown bus benches after the City Council canceled its contract (it was supposed to be paying $245,000 per year and a percentage of ad revenue); new contractor Martin Outdoor Advertising is now installing the 6,000 shiny new green benches. Meanwhile, Walker wonders why some of that Red Line canopy dough can't be spent on providing a little shade for bus riders.
· L.A.'s New Bus Benches Look Better, But Still Don't Serve Riders [LAW]
· Scorned Company Pulling Out All of LA's Bus Benches [Curbed LA]
· New Bus Bench Company in LA, Despite Lots of Conflict Accusations [Curbed LA]