Bus Huts Can Leave Riders in the Lurch

By Jeff Neumeyer

May 28, 2010 Updated Jun 29, 2011 at 3:46 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, IN (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- Citilink bus service riders in Fort Wayne are in for a dose of frustration if they sit at the wrong bus shelter.

Jeff Neumeyer found out it pays to be observant at favorite places to catch a ride.

Bus huts can be seen all over town, but if you just assume one is no different than another, your wait at the bus stop could be a painful experience.

The bus shelters are never plush.

Generally, they offer a bench and a plexiglas roof.

But when the rain's coming down hard, Daniel Dykes says they're better than nothing.

Jeff Neumeyer: " Nice to have this?"

Daniel Dykes/Citilink Bus Rider: " It is, a lot of people that live down the street walk up here, just for cover, instead of standing down there in the rain."

Jeff Neumeyer: " Alas, not every bus shelter you see around town is what it might appear to be. A shelter on West State near the Dana plant can be a source of confusion or frustration, because as the sign reads, "City bus does not stop here".

The majority of bus huts in the city, brown in color, are the property of United Media Group, a company that has no real connection to Citilink.

They use the shelters to make money, by selling space to advertisers.

While the lion's share of the 90 to 100 huts are on official bus routes, at least eight brought to our attention are not.

Timothy King, who uses public transportation almost daily, got the dirty trick played on him at an imposter bus stop on Lower Huntington Road.

Timothy King/Bus Rider: " I sat there and waited and waited. It never showed up."

Neumeyer: " How frustrating is that?"

King: " Oh yeah, it's pretty frustrating."

Betsy Kachmar/Citilink Assistant G-M: " We've been working with them to try and get them to put the signs on the bus shelters that say the city bus does not stop here."

The situation is also frustrating for Betsy Kachmar, Assistant General Manager for Citilink.

The bus service itself has about a dozen blue bus huts, each of those positioned on a designated bus route.

Citilink presses United Media Group to eliminate bus shelters now isolated from service, or ones in bad locations.

United Media Group, for instance, got rid of a shelter deemed too close for comfort to the Columbia Street Bridge.

A problem with a hut near Time Corners hasn't been fixed.

Betsy Kachmar: " The advertising panel blocks the view of our bus drivers to see whether there's anybody in that bus shelter or not. We have people calling in complaining because the bus didn't stop, well, the driver couldn't see them because the advertising panel was in the way."

Citilink would like to install more of its own huts, but there's no money.

In fact, the bus company is looking to raise fares and cut service just to survive.

So, the message to Fort Wayne bus riders, choose your hut unwisely, and prepare to hurry up and wait."

We placed calls to United Media Group, but the calls were not returned.

In fairness to that company, it has cooperated with Citilink on several occasions to try and fix concerns about shelters or other issues.

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