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Community Living Rooms – An Effort to Make LA’s Bus Stops A Little Nicer


Photo by Monica Almeida from The New York Times.

This weekend the New York Times had an article about a neat initiative to transform bus stops in Los Angeles into something called “community living rooms” – that’s a pleasant and clean space to sit down while waiting for the bus. According to the Times, LA’s bus stops are in chronic disrepair even though 1.2 million passengers use the buses every week. Jennifer Steinhaur reports that,

…Scores of bus stops around town, especially in the areas south of Interstate 10 and close to downtown, not only are trash-strewn and barren but also offer no place to sit. Old women press heavily against their walkers, peering down the street to see if the bus is coming, and children cling to the bus stop sign, often perilously close to the street, as their mothers beckon them sharply to stand back.

But things are starting to change, at least at around 15 spots in the city. Here’s how it works:

Community leaders and residents are asked to help plan a site. Landscape architects do the drawings, and community groups get permits from the Office of Community Beautification within the city’s Department of Public Works. Experts help to cut wood and give other technical assistance to the residents, who build and finish the furniture.

The new spaces are designed to look like living rooms, creating an aesthetic that is as cool as it is kitsch.

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  • Yeah, “the community living room” model is also nice because it allows local residents to take these issues into their own hands without have to wait for some government bureaucrat to make up his/her mind.

  • Great post, Ethan! I was in LA in early April, staying with my daughter on the #8 Big Blue (Santa Monica city-run) bus route. I loved the Big Blue system, found their website helpful with schedules, etc, though some of the buses did run a little late. Couple of time I took my daughter’s car out onto the mendaciously named “FREEways”. Hey, if this is the ‘freedom’ that Big Oil wants us to fight and die for, I ain’t buying it!

    When the time came to leave, I took a Big Blue #8 to the stop (Lincoln Blvd?) where I transfered to the “Rapid 3” bus that goes with admirable speed to the LAX airport’s transit center, where shuttles then whisk you to your terminal. I thought it was a great set-up, and the whole of the bus-ride cost me $1.25.

    I found the buses very heavily used. And yes, most stops could certainly use some upgrading.

    I love the “community living room” concept for bus-stops. Angelenos are lucky they don’t usually need to shelter from rain, while waiting… so the concept would be a bit different in most cities around the world?

  • Pingback: Streetsblog LA » New York Times Highlights Community Living Rooms in LA()

  • sprawlingcities

    I live in Oakland and local neighborhood groups have done quite a bit to improve all sorts of public spaces, not just bus stops. I think Oakland was actually the first to do this.