Passenger Waiting Areas

The passenger waiting area is typically the first element of the transit system encountered by the transit patron and several characteristics significantly impact the user’s perception of the system. The passenger waiting area should be easily recognizable, providing a clear indication of transit service along with cues to the level of service provided from the stop. Not all stops require the same number of amenities due to the wide range of services provided.

Bus Stop Accessibility

Bus stop accessibility for all users should be the first item addressed at all Pace bus stops. As required by IDOT, all bus stop landing pads should been connected to streets, sidewalks or pedestrian paths, and have at least one safe and easily identifiable accessible route. All access ramps, sidewalks, and detectible warning surfaces should comply with current ADAAG standards (United States Access Board, 2002).

Curb Ramps

Guidance on the design and placement of curb ramps is provided in Chapter 41 of the Illinois Bureau of Local Roads and Streets Manual (IDOT, 2005) and in Section 4.7 of the ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities (United States Access Board, 2002). The most up-to-date resource should be consulted during the design of all new curb ramps.


Guidance on the design of sidewalks is provided in Chapter 41 of the Illinois Bureau of Local Roads and Streets Manual (IDOT, 2005) and in Section 4.3 of the ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities (United States Access Board, 2002). The most up-to-date manual should be consulted to ensure compliance with current standards.

Detectible Warning Surfaces

Guidance on the design of detectible warning surfaces is provided in Chapter 48 of the Illinois Bureau of Design & Environment Manual (IDOT, 2010) and in Section 4.29 of the ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities (United States Access Board, 2002). The most up-to-date manual should be consulted to ensure compliance with current standards.

Landing Pads

The incorporation of a paved passenger waiting area is recommended to provide a safe, comfortable and convenient waiting area for all transit users and to promote access for those who are mobility limited. Landing pads are required to be provided at all station locations, no matter if shelters are provided or not. According to IDOT standards, all new bus stop landing pads constructed for use in conjunction with a lift or ramp shall meet the following criteria:

  • Provide a firm, stable surface.
  • Provide a minimum clear length of 8 feet (measured from the curb or roadway edge) and minimum clear width of 5 feet (measured parallel to the roadway).
  • The slope of the pad parallel to the roadway will be the same as the roadway to the maximum extent practical.
  • For drainage, provide a desirable cross slope of 1.5 percent up to a maximum cross slope of 2.0 percent perpendicular to the roadway (Bureau of Local Roads and Streets Manual, Special Design Elements, IDOT, pg. 41-6(2), 2008).

Additionally, landing pads should not be obstructed by any physical features such as utility poles, sign poles, advertising, or other stop amenities.

Basic Bus Stop Amenities

Waiting area amenities increase the safety, convenience, usability, and comfort of bus stops, and influence the overall attractiveness of public transportation. Bus stop locations that are designed with paved waiting pads, shelters, benches, lighting, windbreaks, route information, trash bins, bike racks, and, in some cases, pay stations and real-time arrival information, provide a comfortable, safe, and convenient waiting area for transit users.

All shelter areas and amenities should comply with ADAAG standards (United States Access Board, 2002).

In some cases, building lobbies can be designed as interior waiting areas for transit users. These lobbies should be located within close proximity of a Pace bus stop and face the service area. Transit users should be able to view approaching buses for a 1000-foot distance . For passenger comfort, seating should be provided in the lobby.

Several factors influence the need for various stop amenities. High-ridership route transfer locations, stops with nearby healthcare facilities, and rapidly growing areas, for example, may indicate a need for targeted investment to improve passenger comfort and to draw additional transit users. In general, all new bus stops should be constructed with sufficient space to accommodate all of the amenities listed here, and Pace should be consulted to provide a recommendation regarding the appropriate amenities given specific local services.


Passenger shelters are recommended for bus stop areas that are high volume boarding sites. The locations, size and design of passenger shelters will vary depending on space availability and the number of passenger boardings. However, the standard shelter that is accessible to individuals with mobility limitations is 13.5 feet by 6.5 feet, with a minimum clear floor area of 3 feet by 4 feet, and should allow for a clear path for a wheelchair user to enter from the public way. Shelters should have a minimum 4-foot setback from the street at the closest point. When possible, bus stop information is provided on the shelter rather than on a freestanding sign.

Pace shelters are available to communities at no cost. These structures are designed to be constructed on concrete pads that have a minimum 5 inch thickness. If requested, Pace will install the shelters.

Developers and municipalities can provide shelters that are architecturally consistent with particular development designs. Shelter placement should be reviewed by Pace and the local jurisdiction (i.e. IDOT, county or municipality) to avoid visual obstructions to vehicle drivers as well as interference with utilities. The maintenance of these shelters is usually the responsibility of the developer, municipality or other appropriate party. For additional information regarding Pace’s shelter program, please contact the Transportation Engineer.


Benches are highly desirable at bus stops, and should be integrated with trees and lighting features when a shelter is not available. Benches should be located within the confines of the area where a bus stop shelter would be installed, or adjacent to a shelter with at least three feet of separation. The bench design should be compatible with the surrounding environment, constructed with vandal-resistant materials and have dividers to designate seats and discourage lying down. The bench design should not create a hazard nor contain advertising that is distracting to motorists.

When installed, seating should comply with the following guidelines:

  • Provide seating space for at least three adults and one wheelchair space.
  • Maintain adequate clearance on the sidewalk and designated walk aisles within the bus stop area.
  • Provide adequate separation between seating and any trash receptacles.
  • Place seating on a stable, non-slippery pad.
  • Integrate seating with lighting.
  • Bench segments should include vertical seperators between individual seats.

Trash Receptacles

Trash receptacles provide a number of benefits and should be considered at all bus stops. Providing trash receptacles helps to maintain the overall cleanliness of the stop, improving the health, safety, and comfort of waiting passengers. Carefully designed and sited trash receptacles can even improve the overall aesthetics of the stop area, contributing to the sense of an inviting pedestrian environment.

Trash receptacles require regular pick-up and maintenance, however, and should comply with the following guidelines:

  • Locate out of direct sunlight to prevent odors.
  • Securely mount to the shelter or ground, depending on shelter manufacturer specifications.
  • Provide adequate separation from all standing and seating areas.
  • Maintain adequate clearance on all accessible paths.
  • Design to deter harmful uses, including the placement of hazardous materials.
  • Coordinate maintenance contract with local property owners or local authorities to ensure regular pick-up.


Adequate lighting should be provided at bus stops and waiting areas for passengers. Lighting features are integral components of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) methods, and a well-lit waiting area tends to increase a pedestrian’s feelings of security. Adequate lighting will also allow transit vehicle drivers to clearly see the bus stop area and identify waiting passengers and possible obstructions in the bus stop zone.

The placement of freestanding municipal lighting fixtures is recommended by Pace. Local municipalities establish lighting standards for their jurisdictions. Lighting plans for bus stop areas as well as those for the entire development must be coordinated with appropriate municipalities.

The following should be considered when determining the lighting needs at bus stops:

  • Provide a minimum of 7 feet of vertical clearance for all lighting fixtures.
  • Lighting poles and fixtures should meet all clear zone requirements.
  • Lighting should provide a minimum illumination level of 2 horizontal foot-candles over the entire bus stop area.
  • Lights should be shielded so as not to interfere with motorists.
  • The hours of illumination should correspond with the anticipated hours of use for the stop.

Additional Stop Amenities


Landscaping can be used at transit waiting areas to increase passenger comfort and local aesthetics. Earth berming, trees, plantings, decorative fences and colored or embossed paving materials all help to create an aesthetically pleasing and inviting pedestrian environment. Landscaping can also serve as a crime deterrent as described by CPTED methods by generating a sense of pride and ownership, and indicating frequent pedestrian activity. Care should be taken to maintain pedestrian and driver sight distances with all landscaping features to prevent safety hazards.

The following should be considered when adding landscaping features to bus stop areas:

  • Shrubs should maintain a low maximum height, and the lowest branches of trees should be high enough, to ensure that visibility at eye level for vehicle operators and pedestrians is unimpaired.
  • Native trees and plants with minimum maintenance requirements should be used.
  • Trees should be positioned to provide maximum shade for benches and waiting areas.
  • Plants should not block views of accessways.
  • Plant relocation and selective thinning or clearing should be used to preserve natural landscape features.

Bicycle Racks

Bicycle racks and storage can be provided near bus stop locations to encourage bicycle use to and from transit. Stationary racks that provide stable support for bicycles or enclosed bicycle lockers with locking doors can be installed for storage purposes.

Weather protection and security from theft and vandalism should be considered when selecting the bicycle storage device and to determine its location. The facility should be located in a well-lit area that has a high degree of visibility. If possible, a monitored location should be used.

Any bicycle storage facility within a bus stop area should have the following attributes:

  • Minimum clearance distance from the nearest object to ensure easy circulation and access to bicycles and other amenities.
  • Clearly visible from surrounding areas.
  • Located at the periphery of the bus stop area.
  • Securely mounted on the ground.
  • Preferably located at the upstream end of the stop area, away from the landing pad.
  • Preferably shielded from rain.
  • Preferably in a well-lit area.

Bicycle racks help foster the interface between bus transit and other means of personal mobility.

Convenience Amenities

Additional convenience amenities can be provided at transit stops to reduce the number of trips a pedestrian must make to obtain convenience items and increase the appeal of the transit stop location. Automatic teller machines (ATMs), shopping cart storage, and newspaper vending boxes are a few of the items that will enhance passenger waiting areas. Care should be taken to integrate these amenities to minimize visual and physical clutter at the stop and to avoid obstructions to the corner sight-line.

Transit facilities can incorporate small service or retail facilities that enhance the rider experience.

Bus Stop Information & Technologies

Transit Information

Transit route information can be displayed on shelters, in business lobbies, along development walkways and in other appropriate areas to provide accurate route and schedule information to the public. Bus stop designs should accommodate signage areas that can adequately house local and regional route information provided by Pace. Additional wayfinding information is often helpful as well, such as a map of the local area with points of interest. Depending on sign location and type, approval from local municipalities, IDOT or Pace may be required.

Real-time passenger information can be displayed on variable message signs (VMS), providing passengers with the knowledge that they are receiving reliable, up-to-date information. Information related to vehicle arrival times may help instill rider confidence and comfort and can contribute to overall travel time competitiveness by allowing passengers to run short errands when time allows. Destination and transfer information at bus terminals may also increase the overall usability of the system.

According to IDOT standards, all signs and mounted objects should meet the following criteria (Bureau of Local Roads and Streets Manual, Special Design Elements, IDOT, pg. 41-6(8), 2008):

  • Objects projecting from walls (e.g., signs, telephones, canopies) with their leading edges between 27 inches and 80 inches above the finished sidewalk shall not protrude more than 4 inches into any portion of the sidewalk.
  • Freestanding objects mounted on posts or pylons may overhang their mountings up to a maximum of 12 inches when located between 27 inches and 80 inches above the sidewalk or ground surface.
  • Protruding objects less than 27 inches or greater than 80 inches may protrude any amount provided that the minimum clear width of the sidewalk is maintained.
  • Where the vertical clearance is less than 80 inches, provide a barrier to warn the blind or visually impaired person.

Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) Applications

ITS applications require both power and communication infrastructure, but have the potential to significantly improve the usability of transit as well as the overall feeling of safety and security. Potential ITS applications include:

  • Real-time arrival information
  • Electronic schedules and route information
  • Interactive information displays
  • Payment and smart card payment kiosks
  • Audible signage
  • Wireless connectivity for arrival and scheduling information
  • Cameras and emergency call stations
  • Electronic driver-to-waiting passenger communication
  • Pace would take responsibility for the installation of most ITS applications, but care should be taken to ensure the presence of power and communication connections for such devices.

Passenger Waiting Areas Implementation Checklist

Guideline PrinciplesImplementation Tools
Address bus stop accessibility for all users early in the decision making process for all bus stop plansLocal zoning and subdivision regulations, Local public works/engineering standards, D.O.T standards
Coordinate with Pace to design bus stop locations with amenities to provide a comfortable, safe, and convenient waiting area for transit usersLocal public works/engineering standards
Coordinate with Pace to provide passenger shelters for bus stop areas that are high volume boarding sitesLocal public works/engineering standards
Coordinate with Pace to integrate transit route information, local wayfinding, and/or Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) to provide accurate route and schedule information to the public.Local public works/engineering standards, D.O.T standards