Thursday, 2 September 2010


For a little while I lived in a small city in northern Germany. It only had a population of about 250,000 but it had a great railway station next to which was a proper bus terminal. They couldn't have been better situated because on the other side of the road was the main shopping centre. The bus station was on both sides of the road to cater for buses going in both directions.

I found a recent picture of it. You'll see it even had a bike lane safely passing through. This is the railway station side:

(original here)

This is the other side of the road:

(original here)
It had a number of good points. First, it was close to shops and food and secondly, it was right next door to the railway station which allowed for quick and easy transfers. There is even a covered bridge connecting the two sides.

Compare it to Adelaide and things don't look quite so good. In the city, the equivalent of a "bus station" is the collection of bus stops on King William Street and Grenfell Street. One of the busiest I have seen is on King William Street. It is just outside an old building that seems to have been abandoned for some time. This is what passengers are greeted with:

It looks fairly daggy in daylight but is worse at night time. It is not even properly lit. There is no seating and passengers are left to share the footpath with people trying to walk by. Meanwhile, motorists have three lanes of traffic each side of the road to speed through. There has been a marginal improvement recently when Adelaide City Council had some murals painted on the walls but that is it.

The situation is similar on Grenfell Street around the corner. This is the bus stop for o-bahn users outside of Harris Scarve. Again, passengers have to share a narrow space with passers-by as well as bins, shop signs and other clutter. Like the King William Street stop, it is dark and drab:

In both cases, the fact that the stops are sheltered seems to be by accident rather than design.

When a bus finally comes, particularly in the rush hour, once it gets into traffic, it has to sit and be blocked in by a line of single occupant cars clogging up Grenfell Street.

When it was announced that the o-bahn would be "extended" (which in reality means a reversible lane in the centre of Hackney Road and single bus lanes on the edges of Grenfell Street), already it attracted the usual whining and negative comments on AdelaideNow about perceived congestion being caused.

The fact is it is ridiculous that bus passengers should be held up in this way. It treats them with contempt. At the very least, there should be a double bus lane each side to allow buses to pass each other. Better still, Grenfell Street should be closed to private cars and it should be turned into a proper transit mall as you find in parts of North America, eg: Portland. Alternatively, there should be separate bus lanes in the middle of the road with decent stops and shelters like the Paris Mobilien system.

Also, passengers deserve proper facilities that include space to stand or sit if they choose, displays that show in real time when the next bus will arrive and, of course, shelter.

Like with cycling, the intention at the moment seems to be to make taking the bus as difficult and unpleasant as possible.

If you want a decent bus interchange designed and built, you have to get your Lego bricks out:

(Lego Public Transport Station - Item #: 8404)

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