Why be prepared? Some lessons from bus stops

Yesterday I took my camera and went out on a field trip researching ideas on the theme of bridges and bricks. I had driven through somewhere called Metal Bridge many times. It is small group of houses literally near a metal bridge. With a name like that it seemed a good place to look for ideas.

Strangely what also caught my eye were two bus shelters. In the UK the local council works with the bus company to provide a service to the community. There are a number of things to consider such as what routes the buses will take and where people will get on and off the buses. From time to time the route changes and new signs need to be put up. In addition to the signs sometimes they do things to make it more pleasant to wait for the bus. Some years ago in this area it was common for the council to build a bus shelter from bricks and to add a sloping roof to it. Many were built to the same basic design of three walls with a roof over the top so that they were a bit like a man made cave.

The idea was of course to provide shelter for anyone waiting for a bus so that if it was wet or windy they would have some protection. i looked at these shelters and wondered if buses still came past them. There were no bus stop signs next to them. In fact they looked too clean to be used very often. No rubbish no disinfectant to counter the urine from drunken men on the way home.

I looked at them more closely and I realised that if they were going to serve their purpose of protecting people they needed to be maintained. Because they were not well used they were not given priority terms of maintenance. When I looked inside, the roof of both the shelters I looked at had been damaged. This kind of roof construction is quite vulnerable as those intent on destruction or mischief can reach up inside and damage it or climb on top and damage it. The council were doing their best to provide these shelters for the community nearby but they have literally hundreds of these kind of shelters to care for scattered over many miles and limited resources to maintain them. They have to prioritize and use these resources to help the maximum number of people. Bus shelters that are rarely, if ever, used will obviously at the bottom of the list for attention. 

The point I am trying to make is this. Those like the council who provide services for the community can only do so much. If you need help such as shelter from bad weather they may have been able to do something in the past such as build a bus shelter. Those shelters may still be in place but these days their resources are so stretched that they may not be able to maintain them. When you are waiting for a bus you may need to go out better prepared to face the weather such as wearing more effective waterproof clothing so you can provide your own protection from the weather.

Remember in the UK your local council is there to support the community in a variety of ways including if there is s civil emergency such as flooding. When the council has to make choices about where it spends its limited resources it will prioritize them. Recently this has got even harder as they have less money to spend. If people are screaming at them to not to reduce the help they give to the elderly and disadvantaged today then they will struggle to put money aside in case of a civil emergency happens tomorrow. In other words, if something happens they will be less well prepared to help the community. Not only that but any supplies that they do have to turn a community centre into an emergency shelter will be getting older and less fit for the purpose intended because it will  be harder to replace them.

Another comparison is that just as bus routes can change so that some bus shelters are no longer used and there is a need to provide new bus stops. The are changes in what emergencies will occur. There could be changes in what facilities are available in a community if for example a community building the planners once relied on is no longer available. Their plans could go out of date which would make it harder to provide support for the community. 

In other words they have good reasons for being less able to support people in need in an emergency. That will not stop people complaining if something did go wrong. However, rather than complaining and blaming others for your difficult circumstances why not take responsibility yourself now and be better prepared for an emergency. .