In Kansas City, like in many urban communities, a significant percentage of the population relies on public transportation to move around the city. Because they are economically poor, or simply because they prefer to not have the expense of an automobile, transit is their primary form of communication.
Unfortunately, using public transit isn't always easy or inviting.
This is the bus stop that is closest to my house (ok, it could be questioned whether this is "closest" as I'm close to several stops, but this is indicative of almost all of the stops). This is a bus stop -- which really amounts to a sign, on a pole, next to a trash can. The vast majority of stops in this city resemble this.
Unfortunately, for the 25% of the time when the weather isn't good in Kansas City (or more this week), these stops are far from inviting. While many of the more popular routes (like the Max lines) have covered bus shelters, most urban bus stops don't. If it rains, you're going to be wet when you get to your destination. Bummer.
However, in some areas of the country, cities are partnering with neighborhoods and businesses to help create bus SHELTERS for the city. The shelters are designed to capture the essence of a neighborhood, and are paid for by those in the neighborhood (who are also likely to be using or benefiting from that particular stop).
How would this makes stops more inviting if stops in the finanical district had a money-themed shelter? Or how about fresh-produce themed spots at the city market? What if the shelter design borrowed from the shirtwaist style houses in certain neighborhoods? What if the bus stops provided SHELTER while people waited for the buses? Would riders be more likely to stop off at a local business if they would be protected from the elements on the re-ride to their final destination?
It seems like a simple approach that the city/neighborhoods/business could work together to help make using transit more inviting and customizable for their neighborhood. It might be fun. It would be interesting. And it would certainly make transit ridership more inviting.