It’s been about a week since Bell Manor Loop reopened to buses and pedestrian traffic and, while the bus loop is still missing key infrastructure such as shelters and benches, what it is missing most of all are any meaningful improvements.
Bell Manor Loop is just west of the border of Stoney Creek. Two HSR bus routes use the bus loop there and are two platforms, occupied by routes 55A STONEY CREEK CENTRAL and 2 BARTON, with the loop serving as the Eastern terminus to the latter.
There were two major problems with the old design of Bell Manor Loop. The first was that it was next to impossible for buses to line up parallel with the curb on Platform #1 and the second problem was that Platform #2 was too small to properly and accessibly accommodate a bus.
Platform #2 was way too small for the 60′ articulated buses that used the platform before reconstruction. When these larger buses were used two of the three doors on the vehicle did not line up with any curb space. Even a regular sized bus, which is 40′ in length, did not fit properly with only the front door lining up with a curb.
The reconstruction of the loop has taken this undersized platform and rebuilt it virtually the same size.
When asked prior to the reconstruction work, the planning department stated that “Improvements include changes to the turning radii and reconfigured boarding/alighting areas for both platforms.” It’s true that the turning radius for the loop has been improved and allows buses to better line up with Platform 1, however buses barely fit at the redone first platform.
Drivers are trained to line up the front doors of their buses with the bus stop sign post. With where this post is located, the rear door on the bulk of buses ends up too far back and doesn’t line up with the curb at all. If the bus were to pull up further it would end up very close to the sidewalk. If buses do take a wide enough turn it is possible to get the back doors to meet the very end of the curb, but this requires precision to do.
Platform #1 is also unable to accommodate 60′ articulated buses either.
One has only to look a short five minute drive to the under construction Centennial GO Station on Centennial Parkway to see how a proper bus loop is designed. Maybe the City of Hamilton should have enlisted the guidance of the folks spearheading the design process at Metrolinx.
The redesign of Bell Manor Loop, which could have been done as a radical and inventive redesign, was a huge miss and an accessibility failure.
For fun before the project had started I imagined what a redesigned Bell Manor Loop could look like and made a mockup using images from Google. Below was my fantasy redesign of the bus loop.