The abrupt decision to remove two bus shelters from downtown Ravenna may have solved one problem -- complaints of "loitering" there -- but it has created another one: Providing bus riders with protection from rain and snow in the months ahead.
The bus stops on Main Street near the Portage County Courthouse are among the busiest serviced by the Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority. In a three-week period beginning Aug. 25, more than 1,200 riders caught the bus from a stop on the south side of the street, despite the fact that the shelter had been removed and, for a brief period, the area where the buses stopped was striped for parking spaces.
The city of Ravenna, which removed the bus shelters, is working with PARTA to come up with a solution that will enable bus riders to be sheltered from the elements while eliminating the loitering issue.
Questions have arisen about the design and size of the shelters. City officials appear to be concerned that larger shelters will encourage loitering. They also say that PARTA's traditional-style shelters don't fit with the city's historic preservation gudielines.
PARTA has offered to install shelters from its inventory as a stopgap solution, leaving a decision on permanent structures to be determined later.
That sounds like a fine solution. Aesthetics ought to take a back seat in this instance to the basic need to provide bus riders with shelter from the weather. We are nearing the month of October in Ohio; that's likely to mean chilly temperatures and rain -- and Ohio being Ohio, it also could mean snow, too. Waiting for a bus under those conditions is a nasty proposition.
As we have noted previously, many of those who ride PARTA buses are elderly or disabled; some are parents with small children. All deserve the basic decency of being able to wait for a ride without having to stand in the rain or snow, or huddling under an awning for shelter.
PARTA has an answer to the immediate problem. We hope the city accepts its offer and proceeds with installing the shelters. Winter will be here sooner than we realize.