Anyone who has ever waited more than ten minutes for a Metro bus knows how intolerably slow that time goes by. But bus commuters, rejoice! Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Great Streets program are looking to take some of the sting out of the waiting: all 15 Great Streets will be getting bus stops with smart benches and bus shelters that feature free WiFi, solar-powered USB phone chargers, and real-time bus arrival information over the, says a release from the Mayor's office. The first upgraded shelter went in yesterday at Central Avenue and 43rd Street in Historic South-Central; the rest will roll out over the next nine months.
The Great Streets program was announced back in 2013 as a way to invest in neighborhoods by creating safer and more accessible streets for everyone who uses them (drivers, pedestrians, and other non-cars). There's one Great Street for every city council district. "A big part of reinvigorating our Great Streets is making them more user-friendly, so the goal of this project is simple but meaningful: upgrade our bus shelters and benches with charging and WiFi to make waiting for the bus an opportunity, not a chore," Mayor Garcetti said. (DTLA got a similarly fancy bus shelter in June, as part of a separate project.)
The benches were designed by Soofa, a company founded at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology in 2014 to "update the urban context for the mobile generation." According to Soofa's website, LA is one of the early adopters of this smart bench technology. (Soofa benches have been installed in Boston, Miami, and Berlin, too.)
Outdoor advertisers, Outfront/JCDecaux, will be in charge of designing the bus shelters. —Jeff Wattenhofer