Eyes on the Street: Bus Stop Benches Removed to Prevent Loitering

Three locations that no longer have bus stop benches. Photos provided by an anonymous reader.

Alternate headline: “Bus Stop Benches Removed to Prevent Passengers From Being Comfortable While Waiting for the Bus.”

A reader reports that an unknown number of benches in Uptown — some inside CTA bus stop shelters — have been removed in an attempt to reduce loitering. “A lot of businesses asked us to remove some of the benches due to people loitering there,” said 46th ward chief of staff Tressa Feher. “People who need[ed] to use the benches [couldn’t] use them.” And now, they still can’t use them.

Asked if loitering has decreased, Feher replied, “absolutely.” As for where people are going to sit now, she said, “They are doing whatever they were doing before there were benches. There were also complaints from people who were using the bus stops.”

Our tipster, who asked to remain anonymous, understands the desire to prevent loitering, but says this is the wrong way to handle it:

I spoke to a man who works [at the UIC Public Health Clinic on Broadway/Montrose] and he said there were a lot of people who weren’t using the bus who would hang out and drink at the spot. That is a legitimate concern. I’d address it with policing and social services, not removing seats for the vast majority of people who aren’t causing trouble, but I’m not in charge.

He added that “having more interactions improves social results — that means putting more people in the streets, not fewer.” Where the bus stop bench at Sheridan and Montrose had been removed, he recently saw a man sitting on the sidewalk. “If you are homeless… removing a bench doesn’t deter you,” he wrote. “You just sit on the ground.”

  • Adam Herstein

    Homeless people sleep in parks. Let’s tear down all the parks in the city. Too many people are robbing liquor stores, so lets close them all down. People are using ‘L’ cars as toilets. Let’s shut down the CTA.

    Why let the actions of the few ruin benefits for everyone else?

  • Anonymous

    While this is a dumb “solution”, my problem is that the wooden benches in the decaux shelters are usually wood and are usually disgusting.

  • Adam Herstein

    the wooden benches in the decaux shelters are usually wood

    What are the rest of the wood benches made of?

  • The one that was by the Wilson station aux. entrance on Wilson and Broadway was shattered last fall. Or maybe shot at… Then they removed it, haven’t seen it since.

    You should also note that some of the bus shelters on Lincoln in Lincoln Square, where there is no more 11 bus service, are still there. One in front of Sulzer library at corner of Lincoln/Sunnyside for example. No bus service, but it’s still there…

  • If there were more shady places with benches for locals to sit on and socialize, they wouldn’t have to do it in bus shelters (obstructing people who want to get on the bus). People whom business owners deem as undesirable can be dealt with because we have laws prohibiting occupying the public way with an open container of alcohol — therefore, ‘sitting and drinking’ near the sidewalk is de facto illegal, and if they want to call the cops and have them run off, they can.

  • In San Francisco:


    Narrow little benches that rotate when you don’t sit on them. Just enough if you’re waiting for a bus but nothing you want to sit on any longer than you need to.


  • Anonymous

    LOL, nice coherent thought there. department of redundancy department has corrected the error.

  • But are the advertisements still present and attracting the eyeballs of Lincoln Square residents, is the important question? I believe JC Decaux decides about presence of upgraded fixtures like bus shelters after Daley entered into a lease on that public asset. I’d love to read a Streetsblog article on that topic, BTW.

  • Yes, every time I go by it seems there’s a new ad, it’s not as if they’re abandoned, just serving half their purpose.

  • the hamburglar

    Meanwhile, there’s no longer a bus on most of Lincoln Avenue, yet the Decaux bus shelters, benches and advertising remain. At least, there were benches there a couple of evenings ago. I’ll be curious to see if they’re still there.

  • jared.kachelmeyer

    Hope no one stands there waiting for a bus that’s never going to come. Odd they haven’t taken them down yet.

  • CL

    This is probably part of Cappleman’s plan to push the homeless population out of Uptown. He previously introduced an ordinance that would make it illegal to be at a bus stop unless you’re waiting for a bus. http://chicago.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=1253682&GUID=8ADEC1E8-241A-421A-8FE5-24D99DA4D3E6

  • It would be cheaper and more effective to turn some of the area’s foreclosed condos into homeless housing, but I guess the Not Our Kind, Dear impulse precludes normal human sympathy (and recourse to evidence-based effective methods).

  • Jennifer

    Benches? Heck, we didn’t even have shelters back then.

  • mrsman

    Another possibility to deal with the situation is to have a bench with individualized seats (and armrests). You can’t comfortably sleep across a bench like that, you have to sit up. Such benches are common in New York subway stations.


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