LA’s $10,000 ‘light and shade’ bus shelter that 'provides almost no light nor shade' sparks ridicule

23 May 2023, 09:26

The controversial new bus 'shelter' in LA
The controversial new bus 'shelter' in LA. Picture: LADOT

By Asher McShane

Officials in the US have drawn ridicule with a new $10,000 bus shelter that critics say isn’t fit for purpose.

The new ‘Sombrita’ shade, which has no seats, is a pole with a piece of curved metal attached to it with a light on the top that shines down onto the pavement.

The piece of ‘low cost’ street furniture was hailed by LA’s Department of Transportation as vital to help women using the transport network and was launched with a press conference near one of the first of the structures to be installed.

Chelina Odbert, founding principal of the Kounkuey Design Initiative, which developed the structures, said: ““The lack of essential amenities like shade and lighting isn't just a simple inconvenience. For women and gender minorities — half of our population — it can change the trajectory of their lives.”

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The bus stop has been criticised as barely providing enough shade for two people even when the sun is at the right angle. Pictures of the bus ‘shelter’ in use show the light isn’t powerful enough to light more than the upper portion of the pole.

The firm behind it said on Twitter: ““The first-gen Sombrita was designed to avoid permit and multi-agency co-ordination.”

It was meant to “meet these City standards: be less than 24” wide… be entirely on the pole… and be removable.”

Sam Deutsch wrote in the journal Belter Cities: “La Sombrita fails to accomplish the goals of a bus shelter: it provides no seating, almost no shade, and no protection from the elements.”

“While politicians and planners celebrating this silly structure are obviously deserving of criticism, the story behind this joke of a bus shelter is actually quite revealing of the broader failures of American transportation infrastructure.”

“The wildest part about La Sombrita is that they held a full-on press conference,” said Alec Stapp, co-founder of the Institute for Progress think tank.

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