Citizen complaint of the day: This bus stop isn't on the level

Crooked bus stop in Brookline

Today, we visit Brookline, where a concerned citizen is very annoyed by a new bus shelter on Harvard Street:

The new bus shelter in front of Wlagreens at 99 Harvard St is totally crooked. It is because the sidewalk begins to slope upward there, but that could have been compensated for when installing it. I'm hoping it can be fixed, since it is an eyesore.



Free tagging: 



I've been known to type a non-sequitur or two in my day, so I know the temptation, but this is the Mona Lisa, the Gettysburg Address, the time when it turns out Bugs Bunny is the artist and that's why Daffy Duck has been screwed with throughout the cartoon, of non-sequiturs.



Poor location for other reasons...

Bike racks and garbage bins obstruct the bus stop - accessiblity violations likely. The "slope" is a non-issue here according to the photo. We never have enough bike racks or garbage bins so move the shelter to an appropriate location. Oh Wait, Brookline prizes parking over anything else like health and safety so may be difficult to remove a space.


Parking , helicopter landing

Parking , helicopter landing zones , ship piers , it dont matter. That setup is just plain stupid , an accident waiting to happen, There should be no blockage of that shelter by anything. What if a blind person with a cane had to wait there? Fix it you mutts ! It's in front of a drug store, dont you think people with mobility issues go there? Sheesh, dont make me put on my helmet , I still got one good tackle left in me, if i can only find my johnny unitas high top cleats....


It probably does fit AAB standards

Which is the sad thing, because those standards only require 5' clearance IIRC.

It has always puzzled me why the Boston region is so progressive in some areas and yet so backwards in others. Like with making clear and accessible sidewalks, an easy win which just always seems to elude the planners downtown. Even when the sidewalks are given ample width, they quickly become cluttered up with signposts, lampposts, poorly placed street trees, garbage bins (the new giant ones especially), store signs, tables, benches, and just about everything else which makes you wonder if the people in charge ever actually try to walk around their own city.

I thought Brookline might have a little bit more sense about these things but I guess not.


Why do we think that the Town of Brookline installed this?

Isn't it a contractor for the T that installs these things? Do the local municipalities even get to approve placement, or is their role limited to advisory (in many cases, state entities are not bound by local zoning or other rules)?

Given how well much of the rest of the Town's infrastructure is maintained, I'm having a bit of a hard time believing that Brookline DPW is behind this.


It is a contractor for the T.

It is a contractor for the T. I would say that municipalities have a strong influence if they care. The T seemed to bend over backwards to accommodate abutters in this process. And I know that they listened to at least one elected official, so probably others as well.

Mass AAB is state law so that would apply either way.


I thought so.

I thought so. I know that the munis can exert some influence, but it is limited. As you probably recall, the Town of Brookline initially tried to stop the installation of the shelters at (or at least the placement of advertisements on) the Green Line C-branch stops along Beacon St., and you can see how far that got.

Since the T placed the shelter, wouldn't the T be on the hook for any AAB issues, considering that any "obstructions" preexisted the shelter?

Also, I think that the original "complainer" deserves some credit for recognizing that even though s/he was taking advantage of the Town's BrookONLINE app to report the issue, s/he properly flagged it as a T issue. Not everyone is so thoughtful.

The T does the minimum

Well, the reason I said it likely complies with AAB rules is because I don't think the T would put themselves into noncompliance that way. They'll do the bare minimum to avoid legal problems. Which is sucky for the rest of us because the bare minimum really isn't that great.

Normally shelters are the responsibility of a third party, but these shelters seem to be different. I'm not sure why. They are a different design and don't seem to be operated by that company which puts up the advertisements. Maybe it's just a matter of time.

Regarding the online apps, I think it's fair game to report all issues on Brookline territory to BrookONLINE (and Boston territory to Citizens Connect). Your typical street scene can easily be composed of entities under the responsibility of a dozen different agencies. The recent complete streets presentation by BTD (IIRC) had a nice slide about this. It took a picture and circled all the different elements that were under different management. I don't think it's the responsibility of citizens to understand these arcane bureaucratic turf battles. Report the issue, let the staff downtown sort it out. Boston is pretty good about it, they will forward the request to the appropriate agency. I have used that fact to report several MBTA issues like bus stop signs falling down because (a) it's easier to send it to the city via the app, and (b) the city does have an interest in signs that are falling down for safety reasons.

...and I expect the body politic to meet a minimum, too.

I don't mean to blow this discussion out of proportion, and I agree that everyone cannot know everything all the time. However, I can't go as far as to agree that it is not the responsibility of citizens to understand at least the basics of which governmental authority is responsible for what across the region - or at least to the bare minimum to find out. While it is quite nice that the City forwards misdirected complaints as you say, they are under no obligation to do so. Notwithstanding my feeling that CitizensConnect and BrookONLine are very useful tools, it is my personal preference not to rely solely on the kindness of others, who have their own responsibilities, to route my complaint to the proper entity.

My overarching point was intended to be broad - that when people don't precisely identify who is responsible for something, it allows the responsible party to hide in the morass of "they" or "someone". Accountability is very hard to come by when we grouse that "they need to improve X roadway" or "someone needs to fix this problem". As anyone who has been bounced around to several departments in a large company, e.g., a health insurer, will confirm, this problem is not limited to government.

How was this paid for?

If Brookline paid a contractor some ridiculous amount to install these shelters properly, then I think it's a good thing for residents to make a stink when they see shoddy work. I'm sure the time/money saved by cutting corners didn't flow back to Brookline's coffers.


You paid for it

The MBTA got $10M like 4 years ago for improving the busiest bus routes with federal economic stimulus funds. Much of the time in getting new benches, trash bins and shelters deployed was from evaluating if stops should be moved or consolidated to shorten trip times. Still seems like a long time to get the furniture sitting in storage out to streets.

Bus shelters with advertising came a different route. The advertising company funding those shelters has been slow to roll out more shelters, likely from insufficient ad revenue for shelters outside populated downtown.

From the picture, it looks like the MBTA put out a new trash barrel where there were already two. That could be Brookline's fault as they had to be involved in deciding what street furniture to deploy at each bus stop in the project.

Bike rack definitely needs to be moved. It impedes access to the bus - one of the major things the project was to fix.


I wonder if the person complaining about the shelter straightens out the pictures hanging in homes and offices he visits?
The good news is that tower in Pisa, Italy is reportedly heading more towards vertical.


I suspect that

one of these days, the Leaning Tower will finally go the way of the Old Man in the Mountain. Remember that the Old Man was also trussed up with cables for decades to keep it from falling down as well.