The common bus bench is one of several items that urban planners, architects, and others call “street furniture.”
Included in the category are decorative planters, metal tree supports, garbage receptacles, and even fire hydrants & some street lighting. The bus bench has always served one purpose and that is to give the bus rider the opportunity to “take a load off” and relax their weary feet while waiting for Line 33 to take them from Venice & San Vicente to 16th & San Pedro Street or some other destination.
The modern bus passenger spends their time surfing the net, posting on Facebook, or checking texts all via their Smartphones. What happens if that same Smartphone “winks out” because of a tapped out battery? The conventional answer would say that rider is out of luck which, in our digital environment, is the same as hurling them back to a time when stone knives & bear skins were considered modern conveniences. Today, the bench you’re sitting on can help you avoid that bit of time travel.
Appearing at many Los Angeles intersections are new bus benches that come with technology from the Soofa Company allowing riders to sit, relax, enjoy their electronic devices, and charge them when needed. The look of the bench is not terribly different from other modern benches with the exception being that they come with a charging station with two (and sometimes more) USB ports. The ports allow riders to tap into its ready energy and juice up their electronic devices. The bench draws its power ENTIRELY from solar panels on top of the charging station and not fossil fuel generated electric power. Installation of these benches is another move by Mayor Eric Garcetti in an effort to make Los Angeles a green & eco-friendly city while giving residents innovative concepts that fit with our 21st century lifestyles. Soofa was born in MIT’s Media Lab as part of their slate of ongoing innovation projects. With funding from various investors and eco-based foundations, the company now offers a slate of infrastructure items cities can choose from including a line of interactive display boards, stand-alone USB power stations for parks, and “smart” trackers that allow cities to know what their devices are doing, where they are doing it, and how well they are doing it.
Soofa, is one of several 21st century companies dedicated to infrastructure repurposing & innovation. Rest assured that we’ll be seeing more of these products appearing on our street corners and sidewalks. If you want to see one of these benches in action, I suggest you take a trip to the corner of Hauser & Pico and take a seat at the stop for “The Big Blue Bus.” While you’re waiting, you can plug into one of the chargers. It’s too bad that riding an actual bus isn’t always this easy. Watch for these benches to come to a bus stop near you!
Established in August of 2008 by writer, artist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.