New Muni bus shelters leave opening for rain

The new wave of red- or yellow-topped Muni bus shelters may be lacking a particularly important component for this time of year — a reliable cover from the rain.

The new open design that will eventually replace about 1,200 shelters is supposed to make it easier for people with disabilities to access them from behind. But instead of the original solid back, the new rear panels leave anywhere from one-quarter to one-third of the shelter open and vulnerable to The City’s precipitation patterns.

“The seats are always wet when it rains,” said Yaroslav Malev, who was waiting for the 31-Balboa at Market and Second streets under one of 91 shelters that have already been replaced. “I have never personally been caught in the rain under one of these new ones, but I could see where it would be a problem.”

The architects at Lundberg Design won the blueprint contract for the roomier shelters particularly because of their sustainable attributes and Wi-Fi capabilities. At least one-third of the photovoltaic hubs will produce enough energy to illuminate the Clear Channel advertisements on the sides, along with the audio and visual NextBus indicators.

And they did calculate in the rain factor, running tests to make sure it would not seep through the roof or panels unless the downfall was at a 45-degree angle. But the CEO and founder of the company, Olle Lundberg, said he could understand why the “open’’ design would concern commuters.

“If rain’s going horizontal, there’s not much you can do,” Lundberg said. “But if it does come in through the side or the front, the seats will drain off very quickly.”

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has only received one complaint, spokesman Paul Rose said, and it does not have any plans to reconsider the design.

“This was done in an extensive public process — these new shelters were the result of that process,” Rose said. “This was the culmination of a compromise that looked at all the factors.”

kkelkar@sfexaminer.com

Soggy seats while you wait

A design feature on Muni’s new bus shelters makes them more accessible for people with disabilities — but rainwater gains easier access, too.

91 shelters already replaced

About 1,200 shelters being replaced

About 700,000 daily Muni boardings

4 days it has rained in November

13 days it has rained since season started July 1

4.47 inches of rain since season started (116 percent of normal amount)

$25,000-$30,000 cost of each shelter

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