Scarcity of seating at terminal raises eyebrows 

The $18 million temporary Transbay Terminal opened Saturday to mostly positive reviews from commuters, although many complained the designers left out a very important bus stop amenity — a place to sit.

The temporary terminal at Howard and Main streets will be in operation for at least seven years while the new terminal is built. It serves dozens of Muni, AC Transit, SamTrans, Golden Gate, Greyhound and other lines.

There are four benches in the center island of the block-large terminal, but planners did consciously avoid installing benches on the perimeter stops because there were concerns that homeless people would use them for beds, said Transbay Joint Powers Authority spokeswoman Courtney Lodato.

“We want to insure that the facilities are for transit riders by not encouraging people to sleep there,” Lodato said.

Bob Planthold, an advocate for seniors and disabled on public transportation, said he brought the issue up to advisory boards years before the plans for the temporary terminal were final.

“But the fact still remains that any seniors, disabled or people with kids, will have to stand around while they’re waiting for a bus,” Planthold said.

The old Transbay Terminal was well known for sheltering the homeless in its last few years. On Friday night, outreach teams approached several homeless people to move them from the area.

Of the handful of commuters who used the new terminal Saturday, many said they felt the new terminal seemed cleaner and safer, but that it was odd there were no benches.

Annalena Bishop was on her way to Berkeley, where she studies business administration. She said the temporary terminal was “so much better” than the old one, but noticed the lack of places to sit.

“I think it’s because of the homeless,” said the 23-year-old. “They must have some reason to do it.”

“We think it looks wonderful,” Tony Lo, 45, said of the new terminal. “We’re young and don’t need to sit down, but I can see how it could be a problem for the elderly.”

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

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