LRTA Pilots Kiosk Sponsor Program
BILLERICA -- Bus shelters are often the only protection riders have from the rain or the snow, but these structures’ tendency to attract vandalism makes them difficult to keep up, according to leaders at the Lowell Regional Transit Authority.
Billerica resident Al Ramos, thinks he has a solution: private-public partnerships. A new bus shelter Treble Cove Plaza in Billerica is the trial run of this concept.
“Government can’t do everything for everybody,” said Ramos, a member of the LRTA Advisory Board. “We don’t have a lot of disposable money to do this nor do we have a staff to come by all the time.”
Hanscom Federal Credit Union, which has a location in the plaza, has agreed to clean the shelter at least once a week and empty an adjacent trash can.
“It’s a great concept and it helps people so they’re not stuck in the elements,” said Patty Teal, a branch manager of the credit union.
Though the shelter was installed using funding from the authority this spring, a bus stop without a shelter has long existed in this area.
The shelter has a banner around the roof with the credit union’s name. On the side wall are two advertisements for the credit union -- one green for Billerica Memorial High School, one purple for Shawsheen Regional Technical High School.
Ramos said the agreement is currently informal and does not include any payment. It has received support from the LRTA board.
From this first example, Ramos hopes to expand the practice private-public partnerships for bus maintenance to a couple stops in Tewksbury.
“That’s what we’re trying to do throughout the LRTA area,” said Tom Bomil, the chairman of the LRTA Advisory Board and a Dracut resident.
Ramos said the LRTA may also formalize the partnership between the authority and a Billerica sober home, Twelve Step Education Program of New England, which maintains a stop on Boston Road. Unlike the partnership with Hanscom, this stop does not have any signage referencing the sober home.
Ramos said the concept of sponsoring a bus stop is new to the authority, possibly the state, but the practice is widespread in Barbados, which he recently visited with his wife.
“We believe this is the first program of its kind in Massachusetts and I hope to replicate it in as many locations as possible,” he wrote in a press release.
In the United States, Chicago’s over 2,000 bus stops are part of a large scale private-public partnership, Smart Cities Dive reported. JCDecaux, an international firm specializing in outdoor displays, agreed to maintain the stops and pay the city more than $300 million for a 21-year contract to advertise on bus shelters.
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