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A Field Guide to Waiting Transit Stops in Central Tucson, Arizona

No bus stops were harmed in the creation of this guide. Some of this space was probably left blank intentionally. Most rights reserved for party of 2. February 2012

Dan Majewski

Throughout history, humans have used different methods to transport themselves. Historically, this meant walking, taking a boat or using some sort of domesticated animal. With the invention of the internal combustion engine in 1860, this all changed.


Since the automobile became prevalent, transit has been dominated by autobuses. In 1999, %61 of transit trips in America were provided by buses (

Since the 1940s, transit use has declined while personal automobile use has increased. Eventually, autobuses, or buses, were primarily transporting the poorest citizens in American cities. In the last decade, this has begun to change. Increasing fuel prices have caused some people to return to transit as a cheaper more environmentally friendly alternative to driving alone.

The automobile has been shaping the development of cities since the early 1900s. It has had a dramatic impact on development patterns in American cities. Urban areas built post-auto are distinctly different from urban areas built pre-auto. Wide streets characterize post-auto urban areas. Large parking lots, high automobile speeds and a low percentage of people using transit, bicycles or walking to travel to important destinations are also evident in these areas.


Since the 1930s, buses have been the only form of mass transit in Tucson. As of today, SunTran, the sole transit provider in Tucson, has 40 routes and averages 1.5 million riders per month.


The SunTran system has 2,200 stops. Each of these stops, though similar, is a distinct and unique place. They exist as temporal places, places where people are spending anywhere from 1 minute to 1 hour. As a result, they are not designed with many amenities. The most they provide is a bit of shade and place to sit; many stops do not even have those basic elements. Since these stops exist in a harsh outdoor environment, they are durable. They are designed to survive sun, rain, wind and all other elements for a long time.


Portion of Tucson examined in this field guide

In 2001, the City of Tucson entered an agreement with AdVision. The agreement stated that this company would build and maintain 450 stop shelters and 100s of benches with ads on the back. These shelters prioritize placement of the ads over other aspects, such as orientation to the sun. To date, 350 of the shelters have been built. They are a huge improvement over what they replaced, which many times was just a sign in the ground. The shelters create a sense of place much more effectively than a sign in the ground.

INDIVIDUAL ROUTES + STOPS Route 1: ~30 min freq.

Route 15: ~15 min freq.

Just another blank page. Hows it going? Yep.

Route 20: ~30 min freq.


This is a common observed typology. It provides little sense of place or identity. It offers no information about routes. No shade is provided and no seating is available. A motorist could pass it by without knowing it is there. However, these are not all the same. Depending on orientation and context, these types of stops can have seating and shade. When this is the case, it is an accident and not built with those intentions.


This typology is also common. It retains many of the same disadvantages as the previous typology; the comfort level is still low. However, the existence of a trashcan acknowledges the stop as a place where people spend time. It creates a higher level of identity not seen at the stops that only have a sign.

Campbell & Copper

Park & Glenn

A bench emphasizes the existence of people spending time at a location. It creates an environment for relaxation while waiting. Even if not used for seating, it can be used to place a bag or a drink cup. It allows people a higher level of comfort when waiting for the bus. The usefulness of the bench can depend upon how much shade it receives during the day.


A sense of place can be created when all of these features are available. These features allow a person to sit, relax and eat and drink something without having to worry about breaking a law (littering). These elements combined create a place to wait and relax, especially when located in the shade to close to other amenities (aka Eegees).

Glenn & Cherry

Campbell & Water


Starting in the 1990s, SunTran began installing bus shelters. They are boxy and rectangular and they provide seating and shade year round. They have a trashcan as well and they are distinct, noticeable and useful. Many also have SunTran route maps attached to the back wall.


These shelters are distinct, comfortable, visible and high amenity. All of the shelters have trashcans and many of them have SunTran system maps built in as well. Depending on their orientation to the sun, they can be comfortable high amenity locations. All of the shelters are exactly the same so many are oriented in ways that do not effectively provide shade. They create place in the urban space, a refugee within the asphalt and concrete city.

Park & Spring

Campbell & Adelaide