By this time next year, Metro city bus riders could be waiting for their ride in style. The Madison City Transit and Parking Commission met last night to discuss possible bus shelter designs to replace the current structures as part of the city’s effort to redesign State Street.

The designs discussed are finalists in a design competition that was open to structural design firms and students. University of Wisconsin students submitted designs to the contest, but none made the final cut.

Some commission members voiced their concern that the designs may not offer enough protection from weather. “We are not selecting bus shelters to add to the aesthetic view of State Street,” commission member Carl Durocher said. “They need to be comfortable and convenient with as much possible enclosure. Without such we will loose ridership.”

Other commission members commented on how additions such as seats outside of the shelter would add to the already difficult process of snow removal and storage. One design suggests building an oversized weatherproof easy chair on the outside of the shelter. Other designs included windsocks, wind harps and rock gardens.

Although the maximum seating and the shelter aspect of a bus stop seemed to be most relevant to the commission members, CitiARTS Administrator Rebecca Kasemeyer believes that bus shelters should be both aesthetically pleasing as well as functional.

“As long as we meet the criteria for snow removal and other zoning ordinances, I don’t think we can go wrong by adding to their artistic value,” Kasemeyer said.

Sturm/Lins Design, one of the chosen design firms, suggests that a bus shelter be “a crossroads … a bridge between past and future.”

Kasemeyer also said opinion studies show riders say the current bus shelters are unattractive and cumbersome. The studies also showed most riders selected transparency as the most important aspect to a bus shelter. All of the proposed designs focus on allowing optimal light to enter the shelters. One design features a removable roof that can be lifted when weather permits.

The five design firms selected will present their bus-shelter ideas to a jury comprised of artists, architects, citizens and city staff members this Friday. The jury will narrow the selections to three designs that will then be presented to the City Council. According to Kasemeyer, the new bus shelters could be completed by next spring.