Organizers say it’s a small way for the group to make a big difference in the lives of people who use public transit every day.
CHARLOTTE, NC — A community organization in Charlotte is trying to ease the load on public transportation riders.
Charlotte Urbanists is working to add benches at bus stops where there are currently no seats.
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The group tweeted photos Monday showing the before and after of installing its first bench in southwest Charlotte along South Tryon Street near West Arrowood Road.
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Jacob Unterreiner and John Holmes are the organizers of the group Charlotte Urbanists passionate about the project.
“I’m a pretty heavy transit user here in the Charlotte area,” Holmes said. “A lot of these stops are just a sign at the side of the road saying just stay there, and that’s something you don’t think about.”
Unterreiner said he came up with the idea of sitting at bus stops and tried to do something last year with folding chairs from a thrift store. Unfortunately, he said the folding chairs didn’t last very long.
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Now the two are working to help Charlotte Urbanists raise money to build benches for bus stops through a GoFundMe page.
“It really changes the real environment that you’re participating in,” Holmes said. “I just want people to know that, ‘Hey, you know, like you’re supposed to be here at this transit stop, and even if you’re not getting on the bus, it’s a bench for that you can enjoy it.'”
Unterreiner builds the benches at a cost of around $80 per bench, depending on the cost of lumber.
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The group decided that the first bench would be installed along South Tryon Road near West Arrowood Road after conducting a survey and receiving responses indicating that the area needed seating.
“Before we got there, there were actually several people waiting for a bus, and I watched them standing there, you know, with their groceries and everything for 10, 15 minutes,” Unterreiner said. “Then after that bus left, I was able to come in and set up the bench, and it was really cool to see – next time they come over there they’ll have somewhere to sit.”
Charlotte Urbanists put up stickers with QR codes that lead to her survey at several other bus stops around the city.
“What we’re trying to do here is we see a little problem that we can fix,” Holmes said. “We’re going to do that as soon as possible and then try to repeat that as soon as possible after that.”
The survey responses will help the organization determine where it will place future benches.
“It’s just about showing that the community cares about this and that we want this to happen as quickly as possible,” Unterreiner said.
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