Public transit riders in Los Angeles County who want to escape direct sunlight on the hottest days of the year don’t find much relief at Metro bus stops, according to a new study from UCLA.
Only 26% of the more than 12,000 Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus stops provide any shade, the study from UCLA’s Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies found. Researchers say the lack of shade disproportionately impacts lower-income residents and people of color, who comprise the majority of Metro riders.
A 2022 Metro survey found Latinx/Hispanics account for 58% of Metro passengers. Black/African Americans constitute 14%, while 12% are White/Caucasian.
UCLA researchers analyzed where bus stops with and without shelters are located, then measured that data against average summer temperatures.
“The majority of bus stops are located in hotter areas of Los Angeles County – areas with average summer temperatures of over 97 degrees,” researchers said. “Most of these stops have no shelters. This demonstrates how bus riders are susceptible to extreme heat and health issues because of these relationships. “
Researchers pointed to data showing Black, Latino and older Americans die at a higher rate than other groups during extreme heat events in L.A.
Metro is the largest transit agency in Los Angeles County, and its bus system is the second largest in the nation, providing bus service for more than 560,000 daily riders, UCLA said.
Local leaders are well aware of the scarcity of shade and bus stop amenities largely fall under municipal control.
In September of last year, the Los Angeles City Council approved a 10-year contract with Tranzito-Vector, a private company that intends to install and maintain 3,000 bus stop shelters in exchange for selling advertisements on them.