No shelter from the storm?
Although Chico’s new million-dollar Transit Center is designed to provide a comfortable, sheltered area for people waiting for buses, at least one group may end up left out in the rain.
The center, now under construction on West Second Street between Normal Avenue and Salem Street, will provide ample shelter for riders on Chico-area buses. But folks heading to Oroville and Paradise will have to walk a ways to get on their buses.
That’s because the No. 20 bus to Oroville and the No. 40 to Paradise stop on Normal, on the opposite side of the street from where the Transit Center is being constructed.
The issue was originally brought to the attention of Butte Regional Transit by Gary Brune, a Paradise resident who commutes daily to Chico via the 40 line. Brune is also an Internet blogger and has been pursuing the issue through his NorCalBlogs.com/Globetrotter. Not only are there no shelters on the Normal side, he said, there are no benches either.
As a result of his prodding, on Monday (Sept. 10) Jeff Jukkola, associate civil engineer in the city’s Capital Project Services department, went to look at the site—along with public arts maven Mary Gardner—to determine whether it would be suitable for benches designed by local artists, like the ones located elsewhere in the downtown area. Nope, wouldn’t work, they determined, so now prefabricated benches will be placed on both Normal and Salem—but no additional shelters.
That’s not good enough for Brune. “I just don’t want to get rained on come winter,” he said.
Brune suggested a possible reason for the shelter oversight is that a few years ago the regional buses stopped on the corner of West First and Broadway, next to Collier Hardware.
Not so, Jukkola said. The project was designed to serve all the bus lines. “It’s expected that everybody shares those shelters,” Jukkola said. “There was never any intention of serving the city buses over the county regional buses.”
Eight buses stop each hour at the Transit Center, but regional buses are less frequent, stopping only once an hour. Regional buses stop for at least 10 to 15 minutes, so it would be possible for people waiting for them to take shelter in one of the structures and walk the 60 to 70 feet to the bus when it arrives.
The Chico Transit Center has been in the works since 2000 and is budgeted at approximately $1,285,000. Adding a shelter to the plan would cost $135,000, Jukkola said, and the loss of six handicapped parking spaces.
Once completed, the Chico Transit Center will consist of three solar-panel-covered waiting areas facing north and spanning an entire city block. The main terminal building will be situated on the corner of West Second and Salem, and will include restrooms, a break room for bus drivers and an electronic ticket machine.
Two smaller satellite structures will be constructed along West Second, as well.
The structures will function mostly as shelters, and they will look like large awnings with solar panels covering the roofs—helping to power the structures themselves, along with lights in the parking lots. Any additional power generated will be kicked back into the grid.