The City of Los Angeles is continuing its investment in public transportation with a renewed focus on bus shelters.
A motion was passed with a 10-0 vote at Wednesday’s city council meeting that will directly invest $30 million from the Public Works Trust Fund into the creation and replacement of bus shelters around the City of Los Angeles. Council members Kevin de León, Eunisses Hernandez, Imelda Padilla, Curren Price, and Monica Rodriguez were absent during the vote.
These shelters help improve the conditions at bus stops by providing those waiting for them with a shade fixture that will help keep those waiting for their buses a bit more comfortable. Shelters will also provide real-time information on bus routes and other amenities for bus riders. The funds for the project will come from a loan Public Works Trust Fund established separately from the General Fund, and will be paid back by the city over a five-year period.
The council in 2022 approved a 10-year deal with Tranzito-Vector for the installation of shelters around the city as part of the goal outlined in the city’s new Sidewalk and Transit Amenities Program (STAP) approved last September to install 3,000 shelters over the next five years.
According to a recent report heard at the September 13 meeting of the Public Works Committee, around 76 percent of stops in Los Angeles do not have a bus shelter.
Third District Councilmember Bob Blumenfeld — who is also the vice-chair of the Public Works Committee — chastised the lack of progress the city has made on providing sheltered bus stops over the past decade and beyond, noting that temperatures at unsheltered stops can get as hot as 120 degrees in his district.
“Over the past 10 years, the city installed about 25 new bus shelters across the entire city…That is pathetic and embarrassing,” Blumenfeld said. “It’s taken too long to get to this place, but we are at this place.”
The $30 million would translate to 280 new shelters across the city, with around 230 of them replacing already existing structures. According to a report from the City Administrative Office in June, there will be two types of shelters considered — static shelters without electrically powered amenities that would cost an estimated $60,000 each and digital shelters that are estimated to cost $100,000 per shelter.
Additionally, a measure was passed that will help the city recoup some of the costs of these installations through advertisements placed at these shelters. The city will receive 60.5 percent of advertising revenue from ads at bus shelters through the agreement with Tranzito-Vector but moved to establish a fund that will receive that advertising revenue, called the Reinvestment in Accessibility, Infrastructure, and Streetscape Enhancements for Los Angeles (RAISE LA) Fund.
This fund will be used to improve the overall infrastructure of city streets, including continued investments into bus shelters as well as maintenance and improvements for the streets and sidewalks throughout the city. The first $4 million of revenue that the city generates from the bus shelter advertisements will go into this fund and will be split between each of the 15 council districts.
Fourth District Councilmember Nithya Raman commented on the importance of the RAISE LA fund as a dedicated fund for bus and street infrastructure. She noted that despite efforts from the city to change things, the production of bus shelters and other improvements stagnated and public transportation is still “a fairly uncomfortable thing” for many Los Angeles residents.
“This city has really suffered from not having a dedicated revenue stream for these sorts of improvements in the past,” Raman said, “and now as we are on the cusp of a new program, I am hopeful that having a dedicated revenue source will enable us to reach our ambitious goal of having bus shelters at all of our stops across the city.”
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