Tempe High School Bus Stop

There are some interesting bus stops in Tempe near the high schools. This one is on Mill Avenue in front of Tempe High School. It is an iron sculpture of trees. Very eye-catching.

I like any sort of bus stop in the Valley of the Sun that creates some shade for the riders. This one creates plenty.


Light Rail, Carley’s Bistro, etc.

Light rail officially started in Phoenix, and Tempe yesterday. Wen-Ling and I took a free ride this afternoon to check it out. We got on at Price and Apache in Tempe and rode the rail to Central and Osborn. From there we went walking around Phoenix.

We stopped to have dinner at Carley’s Bistro on Roosevelt and 2nd St. The food was great. They serve wraps, sandwiches, soups and salads. Most of the dishes are between $7 and $10. They also serve alcohol. We had Boddington’s which was the least expensive beer on the menu. (They have some outstanding beers. They also appeared to have a full bar.)

My impressions of the light rail… It is faster than riding a bus. The ride is smooth and quiet. The crowds were large, however. It will be interesting to see how the ridership holds up when the fares kick in on January 1st. Certainly, if I were working downtown, I would consider the rail over the express buses.

When we got to Phoenix, most of the businesses were closed. This is the situation that people decry about Phoenix — that downtown is dead on weekends. Hopefully, light rail will serve to change that.

I intend to use the light rail in combination with my bike. I enjoy riding and photographing subjects. With light rail, I will be able to board the train with my bike, ride around Phoenix, and either ride home or take the train again.

Bus Stop at 40th St and Baseline Road

Public transportation has been a subpar experience in Phoenix. Light rail is nearing completion. Until then, the only real form of public transport has been the bus system.

The main problem with the bus system is that the buses run infrequently. Typically they are on a twice an hour schedule, although some of the busier routes get three buses during rush hour. Tempe adds its own buses into the mix in order to better serve riders. But, on average, there is a thirty minute wait between rides.

This can be a problem in bad weather. Many bus stops in Phoenix consist of a bench under a blazing sun. (I do consider summertime, with daily temps in the 105-118 degree range to be bad weather for waiting on a bus.)

The problem is further compounded when there are connections involved. Let’s say you need two different buses to get you where you are going. The worst case scenario is that you just miss a bus when you arrive at your first stop. You now have roughly a half hour wait. Then, when your first bus drops you at your connecting station you are just a little too late again. Another 30 minutes of waiting.

Imagine that your two bus stops consist of a bench under the sun. You will cook for an hour just to get to work. (I have been so thoroughly baked.)

This problem can be addressed in two ways. The first is to add more buses so that the average waiting time is shorter. The second is to provide cover for the riders at their bus stops.

So my motivation here is to point out that the city of Phoenix has done something great by enhancing the bus stop at 40th St and Baseline Rd. What riders need here in the Valley of the Sun is shade. The designers of this bus stop used mostly steel rebar to create the archway and the trellises. Cat claw vines have been planted at the base of the umbrella-shaped forms. Bougainvillea has been planted on a trellis east of the bench. Desert trees have been planted behind the bus stop. There is a canopy directly above the bench.

As the plants mature they will provide some much needed shade, as well as visual appeal. It will be an inviting place to sit and wait for a ride. Very little will be needed in the way of maintenance. Maybe some occasional pruning.

I have seen a few other stops around town where either Valley Metro or the cities of Phoenix, Tempe, etc. have spent some cash on artistically enhanced stops.  Some look like serious cash was layed out.   The stop at 40th St. and Baseline Rd. looks like it was fairly inexpensive to complete.

The vast majority of bus stops in town still consist of a bench under the sun, or a bench shaded by a very basic awning.  For very little outlay, these bus stops could be enhanced by planting a couple-three desert trees around the bench.  While it may not be ideal in the rain, it beats sitting under the sun.

In any case, kudos to the creators of the bus stop and 40th St and Baseline Rd!