‘Legend’ bus benches gone as city lifts no-advertising ban on Colorado Avenue
The Mountain Metropolitan Transit District has removed the last of 32 historically styled benches on West Colorado Avenue as part of a decision to allow advertising at bus stops in that corridor again.
The replacement benches, between I-25 and 31st Street, are made of concrete with metal seats and painted-plywood backs. Display advertising - or a request for ads - is displayed on each seat back facing traffic.
Installed in 1988, the old benches were made of black wrought-iron, had jarrah-wood slats for the seats and backs and bore the slogan, “Colorado Avenue - Where Legend Lives,” in a small metal plate at either end. Their installation at that time, in conjunction with a corridor advertising ban, stemmed from a decision by the City Development Department (which no longer exists), in response to a request by the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN), which was seeking ways to improve the appearance of the avenue. A grant of $26,063 covered the cost.
Andy Garton, the business administrator for city-owned Mountain Metro, said this week that the “Legend” benches were getting worn out - only about a third of the originals still remained before final removal - and some were even unsafe, with broken legs or damaged slats.
As for lifting the avenue's no-advertising ban along the corridor (present-day Route 3), he said that decision was made by Mayor Steve Bach, based on a recommendation this year by his Transit Solutions Team. The team consisted of appointed volunteers, who were tasked with “rethinking our transit system to achieve optimum customer service efficiently,” the city website states.
In an interview a year ago, Garton had told the Westside Pioneer that although ads had been allowed at some West Colorado stops through a “loophole” in the city's previous ad contract, the city would not permanently nix the ad ban on West Colorado until after a public-comment process, relative to a new contract being finalized in early 2012.
That process did not occur. The transit team, seeking ways to offset city funding reductions in recent years that have led to Mountain Metro service cuts, decided a few months ago to recommend eliminating both no-ad zones in the city, and the mayor OK'd it, Garton said. (The other zone had been in the Old North End, near the downtown.)
Asked about the mayor's decision - along with the loss of the “Legend” benches - current OWN President Welling Clark said, “It appears to be a step backward at a time when we're trying to encourage heritage tourism. I'm disappointed we weren't contacted. Public process is important.” He pledged to contact the mayor and his staff about it.
Mountain Metro's current advertising contract, signed this year, is with Tap Media. It guarantees Mountain Metro will receive $260,000 from Tap's citywide ad sales on/in buses and at benches and shelters. Garton could not narrow down how much of that revenue might come from West Colorado bus stops/shelters, but “it is a tourist area, so the advertising potential there is pretty good,” he said.
The concrete benches are the type used citywide, which Garton described as “robust” and “sturdy,” with a proven longevity of up to 15 years. A major benefit of having the same benches everywhere is that “we have replacement parts,” he said, for such occasions as vandalism or errant vehicles.
The Tap contract, unlike the previous one with Lamar Advertising, gives the city responsibility for maintaining the bus stops, including bench safety, cleaning, weeds and advertising placement. The city wanted this responsibility so that it could ensure that all stops “are up to a certain standard,” Garton said. “That will be a benefit long term, not just to transit, but to the city and residents who utilize our services.”
As for the switch in bench types on West Colorado (which was completed in September), Garton said Mountain Metro has a process for taking complaints from the public, but “we haven't heard any.”
Westside Pioneer article