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A Tale of Two Bus Shelters

No one thinks much about lowly bus stops until they let the rain leak in or collapse on you

Seven people were hurt when a rotting bus shelter outside Central World collapsed Friday.
Seven people were hurt when a rotting bus shelter outside Central World collapsed Friday.

Bus shelters aren’t something many people give much thought to, unless it doesn’t protect you from the rain or, worse, collapses on you.

Thailand’s Highways Department this week unveiled with much fanfare its redesign of the lowly bus shelter, seeking to smooth over complaints over its first attempt which stressed style over substance.

But the department’s big rollout quickly was overshadowed when a rust-covered shelter outside Bangkok’s biggest mall collapsed on Friday, injuring seven people.

For transit geeks, it really was a Tale of Two Bus Shelters.

Admittedly, the bus stop that collapsed outside Central World wasn’t under the Highways Department’s jurisdiction, but it put a rare spotlight on something so pedestrian, most people never give them a second thought.

The metal, concrete and plastic shelter on Ratchadamri Road in Pathumwan District fell apart without warning, capturing several people under its clamshell roof, sending one man to intensive care.

It appears the usual lack of maintenance was to blame, with a foundation pillar badly rusted.

No rust or dirt was to be found anywhere, however, at the new bright-yellow bus stop unveiled in Rayong on Wednesday. The sleek design has sunshades and a slanted roof to prevent water from pouring off the front and splashing those inside. And it has a large enough roof to keep the sun out.

Those seem like pretty basic features, but, amazingly, the Highways Department’s first yellow bus shelters rolled out in the Northeast earlier this year provided little shelter from either sun and rain. But they looked good.

Sleep and angular, and, of course, bright yellow, the bus stops were more useless than tits on an buffalo, Issan residents complained. They didn’t keep you dry and didn’t block the sun. And they cost a lot of money.

So it was back to the drawing board, with the designers told to sit in the back as engineers drove the bus. They added sides and that fancy roof and it costs even more.

Two out of the three ain’t bad. And at least it won’t fall on top of people, at least for a while.