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'Simme Seats' Changing Tallahassee Bus Stops

city bus
Star Metro

Pairs of blue seats are popping up at StarMetro bus stops across Tallahassee.  It’s an effort to save money on infrastructure while sprucing up some of the transit operator’s less-well-traveled routes.

A great many bus stops across the country look like most StarMetro stops:  a plain pole with a couple signs telling what bus routes make stops there. But there was a subtle change at a stop near the intersection of Capital Circle Northwest and Miccosukee Road Tuesday.

The pole was taken down and the signs taken off. And then the signs were reattached to a new, square pole with rounded edges. But what’s different is what’s at the base of the pole, as StarMetro handyman Gary Dansby notes:

“We’ll take that base and mount it into the concrete with four 7/8-inch concrete anchors and then we have two seats that’ll mount to that base,” he says between drills.

More about the seats in a second.  Dansby and his co-worker Roy Sanford take about 15 minutes to get all the drilling done – and it might have gone faster if one of the four anchors hadn’t failed to hold its bolt.

While they’re working, StarMetro Executive Director Ivan Maldonado pulls up.  He says this stop doesn’t meet the threshold necessary to erect a more expensive shelter. So the city elected to install what are known as Simme Seats.  The brainchild of a Eugene, Ore., inventor, they allow two people to take a load off while waiting to catch a ride. 

The workmen leave and it’s not long before the first two passengers – and the month’s persistent rain -- arrive.  Jodi Saska and Doug Lee both say they ride the bus regularly and are happy to have the seats.  Jodi sits right down, but Doug seems apprehensive about the wet seat next to her and continues to stand. Still, they both know what they’d tell Ivan Maldonado and his team from their first experience with the seats.

The rain stops, the sun pokes out and the R bus arrives more or less on time.  The seats, uncovered but cheaper to install than shelters, are beaded with water.  Still, as the city tries to close a $5 million budget gap -- in part by spending less on transit -- even though the seats are all wet, the idea of using them to save money might not be.