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MTA's Bus Stops to Get Display Makeover

Transit: Information cubes and decals will be added along some routes as part of a plan to improve the posting of maps and schedules.

June 21, 2002|CAITLIN LIU | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has stepped up the posting of route maps and schedules at its bus stops and is exploring ways to equip all of its 18,000 bus stops around Los Angeles County with better information displays, officials said Thursday.

During the next few months the MTA is expected to install hundreds of information cubes at bus stops--at $120 each--along the heavily traveled bus lines on Western Avenue and Ventura, Van Nuys, and Wilshire boulevards.

The MTA is also experimenting with affixing low-cost decals on bus stop poles that would display simplified route maps and information on how frequently buses pass. The bright yellow, self-adhesive decals will be tested in the next couple of months.

The authority initiated the measures after The Times reported in January that only 2.7% of the MTA's bus stops displayed route maps or schedule information, while 22% of the bus stops in San Francisco and more than 85% of stops in New York City had such displays.

About 25% of the stops for the DASH bus system operated by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation posted such information.

The MTA's new push to improve information displays at its bus stops is good for riders, said Bart Reed, executive director of The Transit Coalition, a nonprofit advocacy organization based in Sylmar. "Considering the lack of information now, whatever they're going to do is helpful."

According to studies and experts, posting route maps or schedules promotes ridership. But many transit managers have expressed concerns over the potentially high cost of installing and maintaining such displays.

In Los Angeles it would cost about $1.8 million to equip the remaining MTA bus stops with cubes--oblong metal and plastic boxes with information on four sides--or single-sided signs, plus an additional $700,000 every year to maintain them, according to a staff report presented Thursday to the agency's planning and programming committee.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina, an MTA board member, had asked for the report in response to The Times article.

At the committee hearing Thursday, Molina examined a prototype information decal and praised MTA staff members for developing an innovative and low-cost solution

The 1 3/4-inch by 8-inch decals would be dwarfed by the 6 1/2-inch by 23-inch cubes, but it would cost only $200,000 to equip all the stops with them.

Easy to install, the decals can be added at the rate of hundreds per week and require only $93,000 a year to maintain, according to the report.

In January, MTA officials said they intended to have 900 bus stops equipped with information cubes in the next few years. By the end of August, the MTA said, 850 of the agency's bus stops will be equipped with cubes. If the decal plan is successful, the agency would like to post them at all stops, the report said.

The agency is also considering using a mix of decals, one-sided signs and cubes.

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