For bus riders at Lawrence's new transit hub today, the waiting was the hardest part. Or, more precisely, the way they had to wait.
Because shelters and benches hadn't been moved yet from the former New Hampshire Street stop to the new hub, in the 700 block of Vermont Street, riders found themselves sitting on the sidewalk or leaning against a building, waiting for the bus to arrive.
“They should’ve moved the benches here,” daily passenger Sally Depriest said. “There’s almost no shade here but there wasn’t much shade at the other place either.”
Passenger Alberta Wright said the benches were important for elderly riders and for people with physical disabilities that make it hard to stand and wait.
Today was the first day the downtown bus stops were operated on Vermont Street, and Transit Administrator Bob Nugent said adjustment to the change will take time. When the department is more familiar with how the buses and passengers use the hub, changes will be made to make things go more smoothly, he said.
“At this point we want to operate there for a while to get a feel for how the buses will line up and how much sidewalk passengers will take up loading and unloading ... shelters will be put up in due time,” Nugent said.
Despite the need for the benches and shelters to be installed, most passengers were pleased with the way the City informed riders of the move to the the Vermont Street hub. There were signs posted at all changed or canceled stops, as well as signs posted inside of the buses. And bus drivers were briefed on details of the move to help passengers if they were unsure of their regular route.
“I saw some changes in the environment and asked, then the driver explained to us,” daily passenger Muhammed Janra said. “I knew about two weeks ago.”
Wright doesn’t ride the bus as regularly and hadn’t seen the signs located at the downtown hub. She said that even though the bus driver answered questions for her, she thinks the city could have done a better job of getting the word out.
“If you don’t ride regularly how else would you know?” Wright said.
So far, the transit department hasn’t received any complaints, but Nugent said it will continue to make changes for the next few months and until a new, permanent hub is established.
“Bear with us,” Nugent said. “We’re trying to keep service out there at the highest level. We understand there will be a few difficulties with changing locations but we’re trying to resolve them as fast and best we can.”
For information about changes to routes, visit the transit department’s website, Lawrencetransit.org.