Looking down the line of bus shelters ( pictured) at Lincoln Fields quickly reveals which shelter is heated. While the other shelters are awash in slush and cold, the damp floors of the heated zone are welcome respite from the cold. One of the sensitive decisions taken for the first transitway in the 1980’s was to have a heated waiting area at most stations. I mutter a blessing to those engineers when I reach that heated shelter on bitterly cold or windy days. And lament that my local station (Bayview) is merely a bus shelter in windswept isolation.
In the early planning of the new LRT system, before the contracts were awarded, the engineers and architects envisioned stations with porcelain tile floors with underfloor heating. This heating would extend a number of meters to the exterior of the station doors. In this way, maintenance costs would be reduced since no one would have to dispatch a crew to shovel snow from the doors. Snow would drop from boots and melt away before entering the building. Once inside, passengers would have dry floors and dry feet. Snow melt would run downslope or simply evaporate from the underfloor heat. Wind-sheltered spaces, not necessarily indoors, would be made more palatable to waitees with warm feet.
The drier feet would also mean less damaging slush and salt and water dragged into the LRT vehicles. Less corrosion. Less door-jamming. Fewer drafts. Car floors might actually stay dry. Vehicles would last longer. Customers might be happy, and come back.
Once the contract was awarded to the consortium however, concern as to whether or not the platforms would be heated, or the cars kept dry, has been delegated. This is a design-build-maintain, says the city, and its up to the consortium to decide what they want to do. What then was the purpose of all the (expensive, time-consuming) preliminary planning, the fuss over centre vs side platforms, the extent of heated areas, the loving designs of gently vaulted ceilings … none of which the city got in its final agreement?
So, enjoy the slush in the bus platforms. You may, or may not, be enjoying these conditions for the rest of your life. And the bus floors, sopping wet with shredded bits of kleenex and rolling pop cans, will probably be with us til we die. Sometimes we seem to be heading into a meaner society where people live in little concrete boxes stacked up to the sky and wait for “optimized” scheduled transit in shelters that may be a step down from what we had in the 80’s. Mind, we might be pleasantly surprised. I’ve been wrong before.