Here's a good article on how bus users must wait in the middle of the parking lot instead of being able to catch the bus at the door of the mall. We all know this is done to reduce the number of "undesirables" who use public transit. I've seen the same treatment in Simon malls are over NJ and it's horrible! During the winter, you freeze waiting outside by the shelter and in the summer, it's an oven waiting for the bus.
I was at a mall the other day where the bus shelter was located in dark corner of the the parking lot! Quite dangerous if you ask me. Another mall where I live has no bus shelter at all with everyone standing out in the elements.
One thing is certain, I will never go to a mall without a bicycle.
Malls pull out all the stops
Sunday, July 15, 2007
You wouldn't want to be a worker with a wheelchair, or shopper in her eighties, when taking a bus to Ross Park Mall.
You wouldn't want to be the bus driver either. Andy Casciato, driver of the 12A "North Hills Shopper,'' took an earful of complaints when he pulled up at the new stop more than 150 yards from the mall's entrance that first Monday in the rain, and he's still hearing about it.
The stop was shifted well away from stores at Century III Mall about the same time, and South Hills Village Mall distanced itself from its transit customers more than a year ago. All three malls are owned by the Simon Property Group, but mall managers say the decisions to move the bus stops to outer edges of the parking lots were made independently.
The Simon group got good press recently for "green initiatives'' like cutting its electricity usage, and a spokesman for Sustainable Pittsburgh said the discouragement of transit ridership is out of step with that trend. For those riding the buses to work or to shop, though, the change is much more personal than any big-picture concepts such as global warming or gasoline imports.
"It's downright scary when you are there at night by yourself and the stores are all closed,'' Betty Muschar, a worker at Sears at Ross Park Mall, wrote in an e-mail about the stop that stands across the parking lot and on the other side of the perimeter roadway. "One Sunday, I was at the bus stop for an hour and 10 minutes by myself. I just cried.''
Lisa Earl, mall manager, said the bus stop was moved because of "negative feedback from customers and retailers having to navigate through large groups of people'' when buses stopped near the mall entrance. There was also a problem with trash and buses damaging the asphalt, she said.
Asphalt damage is the reason Century III Mall in West Mifflin moved its stop 300 to 400 feet across the parking lot, Gina Mercorelli, mall manager, said. Heavy bus usage had pushed asphalt up a foot, she said. "It's more than a divot.''
South Hills Village moved its stop last year, but the mall manager was unavailable for comment.
Whatever the reasons, Hazel Wasielewski, 80, of the East Allegheny neighborhood of the North Side, has cut back on shopping at Ross Park since she has been forced to take the long walk. She'd heard the change had something to do with undesirables, but said, "undesirables also have cars.'' She hoped the stop moved back before winter.
A young worker who came off the 12A in a wheelchair didn't want her name used but talked as she wheeled toward the mall. I hadn't noticed the route was a bit uphill until I watched her.
"Snow -- I'm not sure how I'm going to deal with that,'' she said, "even though I'm kind of strong. It's going to be a pain.''
The Port Authority would like to see the stops moved back, but it has no leverage. The new routes at Century III require turnarounds and add time and expense, authority spokesman Bob Grove said.
On a beautiful day, the long walk doesn't much matter for most people. More than a dozen other riders were on the 12A with me when I boarded Downtown about 11:30 a.m. Thursday, and handfuls of people got off and on before we arrived at the mall. Some were shoppers, some workers, and all seemed reasonably fit. The walks were good for most.
But winter will get here soon enough, and that walk will keep some folks away and be a hardship for those with no other choice. Court Gould, executive director of Sustainable Pittsburgh, thinks the way malls treat transit riders is an indicator of overall customer service.
"We should bring them to the front door,'' Mr. Gould said, "because they're doing us all a favor.'' Some of those bus riders might not have other choices, but we can be sure they're not taking any of the prime parking spaces.
If this had a big effect on the malls' bottom lines, it wouldn't have happened, but I doubt strongly that most shoppers care whether they have to walk past people waiting for a bus. People have waited for buses outside malls since there have been malls. I expect, too, that most wouldn't want to force an elderly woman or wheelchair user to travel 150 yards in bad weather if they knew that was happening.
The door at Ross Park says "Simon Malls/More Choices.'' How about a more imaginative choice than banishment to the far side of the asphalt sea?
First published on July 14, 2007 at 11:25 pm