Bus Seats Have Arrived in University City

Mar 12, 2015 7 years ago

We're pleased to share with you the creation and installation of the first of three planned custom bus seats at 36th and Lancaster Avenue. These new seats, designed to provide seating and information to passengers waiting for public transit, are the latest in a series of social seats designed to be functional, versatile, and unique to University City. The new seats were a collaborate effort between UCD’s Policy and Research Manager Seth Budick, who conceived of the idea, and Capital Projects Manager Nate Hommel, who designed the seats and oversaw their production, and continue UCD’s work of improving the neighborhood through placemaking efforts both large and small.

The new bus seats are crafted from locally-sourced black locust, a dense, durable, naturally rot-resistant wood, and made with replaceable components so that they can be repaired and maintained to extend their usable life well into the future. Their distinctive red color was selected with input from the community to reflect the brick facades common in the neighborhood. The unique design of the seats will allow for patrons to choose several different seating arrangements to both accommodate a varying number of users, and also allow them to choose whether they want to face the street, the oncoming bus or trolley, or the sidewalk. They will also have site-specific messages detailing the travel time to central locations in Philadelphia, and prominent signage identifying the stop’s location. When conceiving of the seats, Seth Budick says he was “especially struck by the dearth and low quality of seating available for people waiting for public transportation” and felt there was a need to better promote transit accessibility in University City. 

University City Bus Seats

Building from that idea, he realized the neighborhood could benefit from “a lovely environment to wait for your bus or train while simultaneously creating a nexus for street life in the form of the seating.”

Hommel, whose previous work for UCD involving social seating includes LoopedIn and Tree Seats, jumped at the opportunity to design the seat. Says Hommel, “A basic tenet of urban design is that the thing you are creating should have at least 2-3 uses to justify its existence in the urban environment. If you’re designing a normal bench it’s just that—a bench. With these designs, even if people aren’t using the bench to sit, they are still getting the word out about the ease of public transit.” UCD aimed at creating a billboard for public transit, especially in areas where people are less familiar with the options and the “shockingly fast times to get around,” according to Hommel.

The selection of 3600 Lancaster Avenue as the first location for a bus seat was driven by data. UCD focused on high-volume transit areas where there is a strong need for seating, particularly those close to commercial establishments. The location is a popular stop on the Route 10 SEPTA line, serving patrons of local businesses and Drexel students. UCD plans to install two more in other similar areas in University City and is currently evaluating additional locations.