ASU students design new shady Phoenix bus stops

From left, ASU students Dan Duquette, Ethan Fancher, Erlend Meling and Derek Smoker pose for a portrait. The four students created a new bus stop design that will be implemented across Phoenix starting in 2019. (Anya Magnuson/ASU Now)
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New bus stops designed by a team of four Arizona State University students will be implemented across Phoenix starting in 2019.

The bus stops are entering the prototype phase next January and will ideally begin being installed across Phoenix by late 2019 according to Phoenix’s Public Transit Department.

The four students who designed them include seniors Ethan Fancher, Derek Smoker, Dan Duquette, and sophomore Erlend Meling. All are industrial design majors in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

The students were selected after a preliminary team design phase in fall 2016. Duquette said he was with Fancher when he was notified they’d been accepted.

“It felt really good,” Duquette said. “It was very unbelieveable, having the chance to design something that might get manufactured on such a large scale.”

The bus stop design was finalized in spring 2017 as a collaboration between the students, engineers, government officials and construction companies. They will be implemented alongside 400 other bus stops that are currently being replaced in high-use areas.

Joe Bowar, the deputy director of the Phoenix Transit Department, said the collaboration with students was an effort to create a more innovative design.

“We decided we needed fresh ideas, we needed out of the box thinking,” Bowar said. “If you go to Google and Google ‘bus shelter,’ when you look at them, they all look alike.”

To achieve the type of versatility Phoenix’s bus stops require, the final design is a “kit of parts,” a mix-and-match set of pieces that can be customized for each location.

The design addresses many of the public’s concerns, including disability access, vandalism, and, most prominently, shade. The students ran the design through a computer simulation of the sun to make sure the design provides shade during all hours of the day.

A prototype of the bus stop that will soon be installed around Phoenix sits on Dan Duquette’s desk in ASU’s design north building. (Anya Magnuson/ASU Now)

Of Phoenix’s 4000 bus stops, only 2500 have any kind of shade infrastructure, Bowar said. The prototype was made specifically to provide a significant amount of shade at any time of day.

The new bus stops will also have see-through grating for safety, solar lights with vandal-resistant infrastructure and are in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Lars Jacoby, a spokesman for Phoenix’s Public Transit Department, said the students’ grasp of new technology was also an aid in building the models.

“It was really cool to watch the dynamic between everyone,” Jacoby said. “The students would come with their laptops and plug into our monitors, and based on the feedback they got, they would tweak things on the screen. It was something that we would never have been able to do.”

The team hopes to have 200 manufactured over the coming two years.

“We’re never going to be at a lack of need or places to put shade shelter,” Jacoby said. “It’s really exciting for our department to finally see something tangible from the 2050 plan being put towards shade.”

Contact the reporter at Rebecca.Spiess@asu.edu.

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