Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Graffiti Gets Expensive

Graffiti at our bus shelters is a big problem. It’s unsightly, creates an unsafe feeling for passengers and at a time when every penny counts, it costs money to repair. In 2007 and 2008, Community Transit’s Shelter Maintenance program fully refurbished about 70 shelters a year at a cost of $1,200 to $1,500 per shelter. That added up to $90,000 to $100,000 each year.

Major shelter refurbishing work has been discontinued during the recession, but the graffiti hasn’t stopped. To figure out how to efficiently deal with the issue, Community Transit established a multi-departmental Anti-Graffiti Project team.

The key question the team discussed is, “What is the tolerable maintenance, condition and appearance Community Transit will accept for our bus shelters, and at what cost?” The team also looked at issues such as why some stops are consistently vandalized while others are not, as well as various solutions to make shelters less attractive to vandals.

Swift stations were designed to be vandal-resistant, and already have an established standard to clean up graffiti within 24 hours. The quick response has effectively discouraged vandalism at Swift stations, but other bus shelters in the busy Highway 99 corridor have been targeted instead.

One of the major problems is that vandals scratch or etch the plexiglass panels of the shelters. When the plexiglass get badly damaged, it costs our agency about $850 just to replace the panel. Community Transit has been identifying and replacing shelters at high risk for vandalism and replacing their expensive plexiglass panels with metal screens. The screens aren’t as weather-resistant or attractive, so we continue to use plexiglass panels in low-risk shelters. We’ll be installing some redesigned shelters to test a new glass pattern that may withstand damage better than current designs.

Please report any graffiti you see at Community Transit facilities to our Customer Information staff by noting the stop identification number (on the bus stop post) or location. If you see a vandal in action, please call 911.

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