City Council Meeting: January 22, 2007

Agenda Item: 8-C

To:                   Mayor and City Council

From:              Stephanie Negriff, Director of Transit Services

Subject:          Review and Comment on Bus Shelter and Bus Stop On-street Signage Design and Master Plan


Recommended Action

Staff requests

1.      Council direction and feedback on the bus shelter and on-street signage master plan and on the bus shelter and sign styles

2.      A modification to an existing Professional Services Contract with Amphion, Inc. 


Executive Summary

Bus shelters will improve the primary access points to the City’s public transit system, thereby attracting new riders and improving the transit experience for current customers.  Staff also recognized that the bus stops without shelters also needed to be upgraded to accommodate new real-time sign information and refresh the dated urban design that is currently in use.


Staff is presenting to Council a bus shelter and bus stop signage master plan that identifies the need for four different stop “styles” based on the volume of the stop. Staff has identified a variety of shelter and sign designs for Council to consider. Several of the models are off-the-shelf versions that can be purchased as is, or that can be slightly modified. An alternative is a customized shelter designed by Amphion, Inc., the architects who designed the shelters currently on the transit mall, to create a unique custom-designed concept for a bus shelter.  Once a model is agreed upon by Council, staff will further develop the plan fleshing out more details and budgetary issues.


Federal funding in the amount of $2.4 million has been programmed for this project.



Bus stop amenities that easily identify transit entry points, provide transit information and improve the cityscape are important elements of a successful transit system. Bus shelters and on-street signage are a vital source of passenger education/communication and greatly improve the passengers’ experience on public transit. Key functions of on-street shelters and signs are:

  • A powerful marketing and public relations tool promoting transit services, the transportation agency (branding, routes and services) and the City
  • A vehicle for improving the public’s image of bus travel
  • A platform for quality presentation of travel information – (the shop window for our transit services)
  • A platform/vehicle for delivery of real-time arrival information
  • A safe, secure and welcoming place to congregate
  • Method for directly increasing ridership



The Shelter and Bus Stop Master Plan

Identifying Shelter Types:

The plan to create and redesign bus shelters and on-street information for all Big Blue Bus stops in the City involves creating four styles of stops based on volume of boardings.  Each stop in the City will be re-developed to offer an improved transit experience and to create a more aesthetically pleasing urban environment. The four types of stops that have been identified are:

I.                     High Volume Bus Shelter Stops

a.      Bus stops where the most passengers board will offer a full shelter and complete signage package including: 

                                                              i.      Printed eye-level schedules and maps

                                                            ii.      Line number and AVR information (location name)

                                                          iii.      No-smoking sign

                                                           iv.      Disabled accessibility sign

                                                             v.      Direction of travel

                                                           vi.      Real-time bus arrival information

                                                         vii.      Large regional maps and route displays

                                                       viii.      Full bus shelter with seating, trash receptacles, in-shelter lighting

II.                   Moderate Volume Bus Stop Information System:

a.      Stop locations with moderate number of boardings will receive a bus stop sign and info system offering:

                                                              i.      Printed eye-level schedules and maps

                                                            ii.      Line number and AVR information (location name)

                                                          iii.      No-smoking sign

                                                           iv.      Disabled accessibility sign

                                                             v.      Direction of travel

                                                           vi.      Real-time bus arrival information


III.                  Lower Volume Bus Stop Information System:

a.      Stop locations with lower volume of boardings will receive a bus stop sign and info system offering:

                                                              i.      Printed eye-level schedules and maps

                                                            ii.      Line number and AVR information (location name)

                                                          iii.      No-smoking sign

                                                           iv.      Disabled accessibility sign

                                                             v.      Direction of travel


IV.               Special High Volume Signage

a.      Key locations with high volume boardings and special situation stops will receive larger versions of bus shelters and/or large information kiosks. Some of these locations would include Santa Monica College on Pico and Pico Blvd. at Lincoln.

Stop Locations:

An analysis of all bus stops within the City of Santa Monica to identify boarding volume is currently underway, and will determine which style should be used at each location. Stops outside the City of Santa Monica are also being investigated, but only select stops will be upgraded at these locations. Early results of the bus stop analysis have identified heavily utilized transit corridors along 4th Street and on Pico Boulevard, which will have a high concentration of the shelter locations.


Each location will be evaluated to determine if the shelter can be installed at the location. High volume stops not suitable for a full bus shelter will receive new signage and benches. Sites currently under consideration to receive a full bus shelter are listed in Attachments A, B and C.


The number of shelters and information poles that would be built and installed is directly related to the costs of the shelter and type chosen. Funding from the Federal Transit Administration has been secured and programmed into the Capital Improvement Plan. The Big Blue Bus hopes to install up to 20 shelters and about 30% of Moderate and Lower Volume signage in phase one and the remainder of the stops and locations in phases two and three.


Once a specific design model is decided upon, a full cost analysis will be completed. From that, a schedule will be developed identifying the number of stops that can be upgraded and their locations.


Elements of Bus Shelter Design

There are many manufacturers of “off the shelf” bus shelters and signs, however, their designs often look generic and inconsistent with the current urban design of the City. Staff has researched several companies offering more innovative designs for Council’s consideration and comment. Off-the-shelf shelters can be modified (at additional cost) but still may cost less than a complete custom design. Staff has also had one complete custom shelter developed for review as well.


Model Option #1: The Complete Custom Design (see Attachment D)

The design of the proposed shelter was developed to create synergy between current Big Blue Bus on-street elements and the existing Big Blue Bus brand identity and to enhance the streetscape of the areas where they are placed. Using colors and materials similar to those found on the transit mall and on the Big Blue Bus, this design effectively creates a shelter that is both user-friendly and reinforces the brand identity of both the Big Blue Bus and the City of Santa Monica.


Several considerations were incorporated into the custom shelter design. The design must be integrated into the surrounding cityscape and needed to take into consideration various physical constraints found on the streets. Therefore, the custom shelter was designed in a modular format to allow the canopy to be of various lengths depending on the space available at each location.  It was also constructed to allow for maximum visibility through the shelters to the buildings behind them, ensuring that businesses can be clearly seen.


The use of solar technology to power the shelter lights and the real-time information signs supports the City of Santa Monica’s sustainability goals. Solar capabilities are an option on some of the shelters. If added, solar adaptation may slightly modify the roof line of the shelter. A study is currently underway to see how many of the shelters could be powered solely or in part with solar technology.


To contribute further to our Sustainable City Plan, trash receptacles and recycling bins were considered important elements of the shelter design. Although currently there are no recycling containers, waste receptacles are processed through the transfer station where recycled materials are removed.  EPWM has informed the Big Blue Bus of the requirements for specific recycling bins that would be needed for successful implementation of a specific on-street recycling containers.


Stainless steel framing was chosen for the primary support poles because it mimics the existing look of the transit mall and because of its durability against the elements and graffiti. The shelters also blend well with the current silver-colored bus benches which would be retained where space allows. Steel prices are expected to rise in the coming year and these increasing costs may have an impact on the projected budget.


The custom shelters were also designed to provide both static informational signs and real-time signs that inform customers of the wait time until the next bus. 


If Council approves the design concept, staff requests a modification to the Amphion, Inc. Professional Services Agreement. Amphion, Inc. are the architects who designed the transit mall shelters, arbors, and signs and developed this initial bus shelter concept. Therefore this would be a continuation of their work with the City. This work includes final engineering and electrical drawings and complete site analysis of the chosen locations.


Off-the Shelf Designs

Several off-the-shelf units are available from a variety of companies and in general these units are significantly less expensive than the custom design. Even with modifications these off-the-shelf units can be up to 50% less in cost enabling us to place more units on the streets. Staff has researched and found that some of these companies have integrated real-time signs that function with the current Siemens technology that has recently been installed on the bus fleet. This reduces costs and creates a simplified structure where the signs can be built more easily into each unit. Many of them also offer advanced solar technology that would reduce the need for costly trenching while supporting the City’s sustainability plan. Another benefit of these off-the-shelf products is that many offer complete systems that provide design continuity between different sizes and types of shelters and signs. This reduces the time and costs associated with developing four different architectural designs, which would be the case with the complete custom design. And because they are off-the-shelf product replacements, additions and changes can be made for less money.


Off-the Shelf Design and Configuration Options:

·        Lower Volume Information Sign Design 1 (Attachment E)

o       Example shows a pole style that is three sided, with a base cap on the ground. It can have solar capabilities for a light, and features eye-level signs, route numbers, and has flexibility for much more information such as “no-smoking” AVR numbers, and direction of travel.

·        Lower Volume Information Sign showing solar panel Design 1 (Attachment F)

·        Lower Volume Information Sign alternate view Design 1 (Attachment G)

o       This drawing illustrates that the sign meets all ADA requirements

·        Moderate Volume Sign Design 1 (Attachment H)

o       This drawing illustrates how the real-time information sign is integrated into the system.

·        Moderate Volume Sign without real-time Design 1 (Attachment I)

o       This illustrates another option that is available for moderate volume stops. This can be modified with real-time signs and can also be used in conjunction with a shelter.

·        Special High Volume Sign Options Design 1 (Attachment J)

o       This demonstrates a variety of sign styles that can be used at special high volume locations.

·        Lower and Moderate Information Signs Design 2 (Attachment K)

o       This shows a different style of information sign that could be used at lower and moderate stop locations. The illustration shows one with a real-time sign, one without, and one used for branding purposes only.

·        Bus Shelter Design Option 1: Winged Shelter (Attachments L-1, L-2, L-3, L-4)

o       These pages illustrate an all-glass shelter design and show that it can be modified to work with 4-footings of various sizes or 2-footings. The glass in the shelters can be arranged in different ways to provide maximum protection from the elements, or can be mostly removed, and the glass can be clear or a pattern applied.

o       This shelter requires that a pole configuration from above be used with it to provide the on-street information.

·        Bus Shelter Option 2: Contempo Shelter (Attachment M)

o       This graphic illustrates a very contemporary design that can allow for built-in real-time signs and large amounts of on-street information that is all built into one unit. 

·        Bus Shelter Option 3: The Mini (Attachment N)


This shelter matches the information sign poles design 2 from Attachment K and features real-time information and solar capabilities, and high visibility.


Previous Council Actions

In May of 2005, Council approved the conceptual design of the Rapid Blue shelters that were to be placed primarily along the Lincoln corridor. At that time, Council also approved the Professional Services Agreement with Amphion, Inc. to fully develop the drawings needed to build these shelters. However, regulatory issues between Metro and the City of Los Angeles have delayed the Big Blue Bus from receiving the funding that was approved for this project. Therefore, the local shelters will be built first and the Rapid shelters will be added later when the regional funding issues are resolved.


Public Outreach

Once a design is approved, outreach to the businesses around each bus shelter will begin. Information showing the design will be mailed out as well as made available on the buses and on the Big Blue Bus website for comment. Public meetings will also be conducted.


Financial Impacts & Budget Actions

Staff is requesting only comment and feedback on the design options. However, should Council direct staff to proceed with the full customized shelter design, a modification to the contract with Amphion, Inc. in the amount not to exceed of $96,270 for completion of site analysis and final architectural drawings for the shelters is required. Total estimated costs for 20 full-custom designed shelters have been projected at $2,361,504. Federal funds in the amount of $2.4 million have been programmed for this project. Funds for this project are available in account C410114.589000.


Maintenance of the shelters, including pressure washing, sign replacement, graffiti removal, trash pick up and general cleaning, can be done through an outside contract of in-house personnel. Current estimates for cleaning 20 shelters once per week are approximately $80,000 per year.


Prepared by:

Dan Dawson, Customer Relations Manager





Forwarded to Council:







Stephanie Negriff

Director of Transit Services


P. Lamont Ewell

City Manager