Council bus blunder: Shelter seats too high to reach

One of the new bus shelters in Brandon Terrace. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
One of the new bus shelters in Brandon Terrace. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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AS many as one in 20 of the Capital’s new bus shelters will need to have their seats replaced – because they are too high to sit on.

Red-faced city chiefs admitted around 20 of the 400 shelters currently being rolled out will need to be “retro-fitted” with new seating after being installed at the wrong height by contractor JCDecaux.

The news comes as campaigners call on the council to halt its bus shelter replacement programme entirely amid claims the new stops take up too much pavement space.

Pedestrian pressure group Living Streets Edinburgh said the installation of the shelters was “clearly flawed” – with some even breaching the council’s own guidelines, which state a gap of 1.4 metres should be left adjacent to the shelter.

The new bus stops – some of which boast touchscreen displays and even phone chargers – are being rolled out as part of a multi-million-pound contract between the council and global advertising giant JCDecaux.

But yesterday charity Age Scotland said the shelters were “clearly a cause for concern”.

A spokeswoman said: “We are concerned that the height of the seats in the new shelters means that passengers who require a place to rest before continuing their journeys cannot do so.”

She added that some shelters “taking up excessive space” caused accessibility issues, and raised concerns the stops “do not sufficiently protect passengers from varied weather”.

The charity said it had already received a complaint over the height of seating at a shelter on Brandon Terrace. When the Evening News visited the stop, our 6ft tall reporter’s legs couldn’t reach the ground when sitting on the shelter’s metal bench.

Pensioner Ruth Malcolm-Smith, 83, had to be helped on to the seat by her daughter.

She said: “Even if you can manage to get on, you will probably injure your knees.”

And one bus driver admitted he “would need a step ladder” to sit at the shelter himself.

In a letter to Councillor Lesley Hinds, David Spaven, chairman of Living Streets, urged the council to halt the rollout of new shelters until standards improve. He said he was aware of two instances – at Constitution Street and Buccleuch Street – where shelters have apparently been installed in the wrong positions.

It is understood any amendments would be carried out at no extra cost to the council.

Cllr Hinds said the city’s shelters had been designed “in accordance with national mobility guidelines, and allow for greater accessibility for wheelchair users than older shelters”.

She said: “Thanks to our contract with JCDecaux, the council will now also be able to benefit from advertising on shelters across the city, which will provide a new income stream for investment in services.

“Where possible, JCDecaux have installed shelters to adhere to the council’s Bus Friendly Design Guide, though in some narrower areas it is necessary to refer to national guidance, which requires a minimum of one metre passage space.

“However, the council is currently working with JCDecaux to ensure shelters meet our standards, including the relocation of a small number of shelters to allow smoother passage, and replacing seating in shelters where it is considered too high.”

JCDecaux declined to comment.