City tries out a new, more comfortable bus stop seating option

City tries out a new, more comfortable bus stop seating option
Published: Aug. 26, 2016 at 2:50 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 26, 2016 at 10:21 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city has launched a pilot project to install new bus stop seating that's meant to comfortable -- but not too comfortable.

This week, crews replaced the concrete bus stop bench at the corner of North King and Maunakea streets with what's called a Simme seat.

The seats are designed to be more comfortable than the round stools the city had been installing, while still preventing someone from stretching out to sleep.

Bus passengers didn't waste any time breaking in the new seating outside Bank of Hawaii's Chinatown branch.

Bank manager Kimo Wong says it's been a while since riders had a place to rest.

"The usage during the day was not people that would normally patronize the bus. It's people that would just lay there," Wong said.

The city has about 3,800 bus stops on Oahu, and has tried to address complaints of homeless campers taking up residence in them.

"We're not buying the concrete benches anymore. We've been replacing our long benches with the short stools," said Mark Garrity, acting director of the city Department of Transportation Services.

But the concrete stools aren't popular among some elderly riders because they're lower to the ground and don't have an arm rest.

Simme seats are an alternative. So far they've been installed at three bus stops.

"It's somewhat based on demand or complaints," Garrity said. "They have a handle in the middle so people can grab onto it when they sit down or stand up. It also prevents people from laying down on them."

The seats cost $770. That's more than a stool but less than a concrete bench.

Outside the Wal-Mart on Keeaumoku Street, the new seats got mixed reviews.

"They're not big enough," said bus rider Keith Sias.

Bus rider Luke Blubaugh, though, was hooked.

"I'd love to see them in Waikiki on Kuhio," he said.

Back in Chinatown ,Wong says the change has done more than help bus riders. Bank customers are no longer getting hassled at the ATM near the bus stop.

"The people feel safer," he said.

The city does have a few more Simme seats that have not yet been installed.

If you have a suggestion for where one should be installed, let the city know by clicking here.

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