Monday, 6 May 2013

Bus Stop benches around the world

It was Bus Driver Appreciation Day on May first. Not a lot of people know that. 

And I've had a little bit of a disagreement with Miggy. I guess you might call it a serious argument actually. It's about who will help me edit this post on bus stop benches. I have some amazing bus stop benches to show you. For a start, look at this brilliant school bus stop in Athens, Georgia. It's by sculptor Christopher Fennell.

And here's a juniper tree school bus bench near Bend, Oregon. I can almost smell the juniper.

 Kelly Riley at

Miggy keeps insisting that I let the Fribble Agro guys guest edit this post about bus stop benches. She says they know way more than I can imagine about culture. 

Come on. Do these look like people who know anything about culture?

I'm sure these two characters would be better guest editors than the Fribble Agro. They are waiting at a bus stop and can speak from experience.

Miggy points out that the Agro spend a lot of time hanging out at the Fribble bus stop so they know their stuff about bus benches. And I remind her that they couldn't even spell Agro right when they graffitied the bus shelter.

Anyway, I'll give them a chance. Here goes.

So what do you guys think of the school bus benches?

Biff (the purple snarling one):  I hated school.  No comment.

Sk8-T (the one with the skateboard):  Whatever.

Root (the tall one with the goofy look. No, not that one. The other one): 
I went to a private school. I got the chaueffeur to drive me there in time for lunch and then drive me home. I never rode in a school bus.

Great start, Miggy. Thanks a bunch. 

Hood-D: The Athens school bus is an interesting concept because it takes a familiar icon and deconstructs it in a way which is both destructive and functional. Its juxtaposition works in sharp contrast to the naturalistic setting of the wooden school bus bench, which is simultaneously welcoming and forlorn. 


Hood-D:  That's just my opinion. You did ask.

I did. Yes. Thanks, Hood-D. 

I've gathered bus stop benches from all over the world. See if you can guess where they are.

my photo, Sandown Isle of Wight

Biff:  Asia. Is that a place?

Yes, but that's not it. It's here in Fribble. Don't you recognise it? It's the one right opposite the bus stop where you guys always sit. 

Root:  I sit there but I don't look at anything.

Any comments anyone wants to make about the bus stop?

Sk8T: I like the graffiti that someone has sprayed on the road.

Moving swiftly on. 

Here is an elevated bus stop in Holland. Do you see the bench up there at the top of the stairs?

Hood-D:  Yes, this is by Israeli designer Itay Ohaly. His concept of elevated benches is about having a detached experience within a city. Here is another Ohaly elevated bench where you can have an unusual perspective of the city whilst waiting for the bus.

Well, Hood-D, I couldn't have said it better myself.

Now let's have a peak at some of the highest bus stop benches I've found.

Wank Mountain, Garmisch-Partinkirchen

Root: Awesome name! Now I know what those little cars are for.

It's a ski lift, Root. On Wank Mountain in Bavaria.

And this one's even higher. 

Hanicity, commons,

See what I did there? Peek and peak . . . 

Hood-D: Your pun is irrelevant but if elevation of objects is being equated with artistic hierarchy, then this bank-sponsored bench playfully and subliminally suggests that the corporation is, so to speak, at the pinnacle of its performance. 

Yeah. Whatever.

I need something more down to earth. How about these bus stop benches in Cyprus?  

photo by Sheila B.

Blue seems to be a theme here. White villas and blue benches.

photo by Sheila B.

Not this one though. This is a plain old wooden bench.

photo by Sheila B. 

Hood-D: This last bus stop bench isn't blue, yet the colour theme is subtly kept going by the inclusion of the blue shoe. The other theme here is obviously loss. The shoe is lost, of course, but a more political point could be made about the loss of Cypriot culture due to the incursion of in-your-face developments like the one advertised on the poster. 

Biff: I have no idea what you're saying, mate, but I'd like to smash up that bus shelter. 

Hood-D: in a way that's exactly what I am saying: the cultural and environmental destruction of Mediterranean communities is powerfully depicted in images like this one. 

I think we'll move on if you don't mind. 

I found this bus shelter in Greece. I wonder what it says? 

my photo, Kefalonia

Biff:  What's the point of a bus shelter with no glass? If there's no glass, there's nothing to smash up while you're waiting.

Hood-D: Oppressed members of communities find ways of expressing themselves in public places so that the ruling classes are forced to confront their dissatisfaction.

I don't see who could be dissatisfied with this bus stop in Somerset. Look at that view!

my photo, Minehead, Somerset

Root:  What view? 

Biff: I could have the glass out of that in about three minutes.

Doesn't anyone ever call the police when you do this?

my photo, Devizes, Wiltshire

Biff: Naw. Not now that they have mobile phones.

That's enough mindless vandalism.  

Here is an elephant waiting patiently at a bus stop bench somewhere.

Biff:  France. They have elephants in France.

Not at bus stops they don't.

Here is a vintage French school poster showing a bus stop in France. Do you see any elephants?

Hood-D:  I don't find your question relevant to either the style or content of the French poster. Surely it's the vintage qualities of the colourful poster which are of interest here.

I agree Hood-D. Sorry, I keep getting side-tracked by Biff's somewhat unconventional take on things. 

(Deep breath. Shoulders back. Pull self together.) 

Remember we're looking at bus stops all over the world now. 

What do you guys think of this one?

Sk8-T: Looks like my mum's sitting room.

Biff:  Africa. Is that a place?

Hood-D:  It's Cornwall. This is an image from The Caravan Gallery's exhibition at the Liverpool Biennial in 2012. This particular image is from their theme called Hospitality. I found this exhibition compelling and I think the irony of the image here effectively and dramatically conveys the theme. 

OK, Hood-D, my sincere apologies. I had no idea you were capable of this level of cultural commentary.

Hood-D: You might want to show some of The Caravan Gallery's other bus stop images. They're intriguing because they suggest a context of urban decay but with a playful touch which is quirky, humorous, and just slightly uncomfortable. For example, here is a bus stop from their Street Scenes theme, taken in Bristol.

Sk8T: Cool graffiti that someone has sprayed on the road. 

Miggy has said it all along: though he may not look it, Hood-D is a very clever hoodie. 

Here he is in front of the Paradise Art School with his brand new Master of Fine Arts.

And here he is a few hours later, having celebrated with his Agro mates and Police Constable Willie Wyme.

You may notice that the Art School logo has changed slightly from one picture to the next: this is what Hood-D calls Subversive Urban Art. Only it's not urban because this is Fribble and we're distinctly rural. 

We're a long way from anywhere.

We're the back of beyond.

At bus stops like this you can start to feel a bit despondent if you have to wait on a hard wooden bench.

image from John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress

In this bus shelter in Sweden they try to make the best of it.

Lynne Woodward 

A comfy sofa is provided for those long winter nights in the bus shelter.

Lynne Woodward 

Here in Fribble it's often chilly so if you happen to be standing at the bus stop with your baby you want to keep the baby's feet warm. For that you need Bus Stop booties, which are expertly crocheted by Michele at Crochele.

I had never heard of Bus Stop booties but there are plenty of them on the internet. I wonder what our Master of Fine Arts guy thinks about booties as art?

Miggy is telling me that Hood-D is rather shy and doesn't like this personal focus.  

OK, fair enough. So back to bus stop benches then. 

I'm afraid I can't compete with Hood-D's exciting Caravan Gallery Benches. or the bus stops in exotic parts of the world. Here on Paradise Island bus stop benches tend to be rather lacklustre.

This bench seems to have got separated from its bus stop.

my photo, Yaverland, Isle of Wight

Root: I thought the green bit was a urinal. 

Biff: I spent the night here once when I missed the night bus to Fribble.

Sk8T: Wow, is this Banksy? Graffiti on the road. Mega. 

This town bus bench isn't very interesting either but at least it's out of the rain. 

Biff:  I know this one. I bashed the glass out of it a couple of times.

You wouldn't smash these benches up, Biff. They're in Berlin and they look distinctly vandal-proof.

image by Debra Conn

Sk8T: What about the bus stop with the cat? 

Yes, you're quite right, Sk8T. There is a local cat who likes to sit on the bench at the bus stop in Drizzly.

my photo, Freshwater, Isle of Wight

Sk8T: Sometimes I think he's my only friend.

I'm sorry to hear that, Sk8T. Normally I'd invite you to tell me about it but this post is going rather slowly and I've got more benches to show you.

Sk8T: I'm used to being ignored. Even the tourists ignore me. 

They're probably too busy trying to find their way around on the buses. Here's a tourist having a look at a map but he seems to have blended into his surroundings somehow.

Hood-D: Yes, camoflage is one of the themes of Dutch artist Desiree Palmen. She has many works of art in which people dissolve into their surroundings or disappear altogether. Palmen's work suggests that we all have a desire to step out of our social context. 

I'm going to have to take your word for that, Hood-D. 

Biff:  I like those indoor bus stations where you can hang out and write stuff in the benches with a knife.

Like this one?

Biff:  Yeah. I'd have the glass out of that in about two minutes.

I can't see the point of that, Biff. It's a nice little bus station.

SK8T:  Look at that bus though. It's too small.

Biff:  Yeah and it's full of ugly plants.

Hood-D:  This is one of those misguided attempts to facilitate community spirit by tarting up municipal spaces with humourless and clichéd objects which alienate whole sections of the community. The truth is, most bus shelters are unattractive, uncomfortable and totally lacking in soul.

I kind of see what you mean, Hood-D. You're exceptional though. You've got a Masters in Fine Arts. For people like me, planting some pansies in a little bus is not particularly offensive.

Hood-D:  You need to get out more. 

Let's look at some tropical places now. 

Here's a bus stop in Hawaii where you can yell Surf's Up! when you see the bus coming.

Sk8T: I would never do that.

Root:  Me neither. It's dumb.

Biff: I'd take that surfboard off there and sell it on ebay. 

Imagine if we had something like this in Fribble: a banana plant at the bus stop!

Root: Hey, that reminds me. I'm hungry.

Funny you should say that. I just happen to have an Edible Bus stop for you. 

image courtesy of The Edible Bus Stop

It's along the 322 route in South London.

Hood-D: yes, the Edible Bus Stop Project grew, literally, out of the guerilla community gardens beside the bus stops. Now you can see edible things growing while you wait for the bus. This is real community empowerment.

Sk8T: So if we rode this bus we'd be in the tropics?

No, you'd be somewhere between Clapham Common and Crystal Palace. 

Sk8T: Is that in Norway?

It's not, but here's a bus stop bench from Lofoten in Norway.

Hood-D: You seem to be geographically challenged, Seashell. Norway is not in the tropics.

Of course it's not. I was just showing . . . Never mind. 

But this is the tropics. It's a bus stop in Belize.

Hood-D:   The use of colour here is what draws the viewer in. The vertical columns of blue in the foreground provide a frame for the gold image behind it. For me, however, it is the slight angle of the truck which adds a depth of interest. 

Well, thanks again, Hood-D. It's amazing what you can see in a picture.

Biff:  I'd like to get hold of the keys to that truck and have a joy ride around Asia or Africa.

I'm sure you would, Biff, but that's never going to happen. 

Would you like to hear some harrowing tales at the bus stop?

Abe Olson is the author of this digital comic and he can tell you about something weird and unimaginable happening to a normal guy while he's waiting for the bus on his way to work. All you have to do is pay Abe $1 and he'll send you the comic. 

Meanwhile, here's a striking black and white photograph from the Austin Mueller Airport which used to be in Texas. The bench is covered in weeds but you certainly get the feeling of the disused airport.

Hood-D:  The emotion of abandonment is strong here but it runs deeper than just the disused airport. The viewer imagines an apocalyptic scene in which the industrialised world has ceased to exist and nature is taking back what rightfully belongs to it. 

I was going to say the same thing, Hood-D. You beat me to it. 

Back to inhabited places now. Here's some luggage in a bus station just waiting to go somewhere.

photo by Sheila B.

Seeing luggage on a bench like this makes me curious: who is going where? And then I'm reminded that I am not going anywhere. I am stuck here on Paradise Island. The most I'll get is a ride on an old green bus.

photo by Helen Danby

It's not so bad though. The conductress is nice to me and the benches inside the bus are well good, as Hood-D would say.

photo by Helen Danby

I can see that Hood-D has something to say here but I'm not going to let him say it. Sorry H-D. Our bus is due any minute. 

I have just seen the school bus go past.

These kids seem to be having a good time on the bus and some designers think bus stops ought to be fun places to hang out. Bruno Taylor put up some fun swinging benches in London bus shelters.

And here's a bus stop bench in Seattle which suggests a cozy and comfortable armchair.

Hood-D:  Clever use of colour here. This is a credible attempt to tart up public space without too much self-congratulating municipality.

Yeah, well. Whatever. 

And finally, here is a Japanese bus stop which is so crowded that no one can sit on the bench, if indeed there is a bench.

Biff: Don't mention Japan. That Emiko girl broke my heart.

Sorry to hear it, Biff. Here's some first aid I keep around for broken hearts.

image from

Maybe you could send Emiko a present? 

Here are some brilliant Marilyn Monroe earrings from her Bus Stop film. by annette


You see. I was right all along. 

These guys know nothing about culture. 

To end the story, you might be interested to know that last night someone vandalised the Fribble bus stop and broke up the bench. Everyone suspected the Agro, of course, but they said it was Cora Boran, who has a habit of smashing things up with her walking frame. And the Agro had an alibi because they'd been with me, working on this post. 

When Police Constable Wyme the Crime went to investigate, it was obvious who did it.


The American school bus bus stop is in Athens, Georgia. It regularly appears in all kinds of list about best bus stops. It's by sculptor Christopher Fennell who kindly gave permission for me to use it. Chris's website is at You can see more of Chris's work in the Wild West at

Kelly Riley's juniper tree school bus bench photographs are from Bend, Oregon. She is a textile artist and musician whose website is at . Her etsy textile art shop is at  

Kevin McGrath's watercolour and graphite illustration of the gorilla and frog has a caption:  He had written "tall, dark, and handsome" on I'm not sure who is more disappointed, the gorilla or the frog. Kevin's virtual zoo is on Martha's Vineyard and his shop is at

The elephant at the bus stop is a delightful watercolour painting by Veronique Latimer, who does illustrations for children from her etsy shop at  Her website is at

Itay Ohaly (born 1979) is an industrial designer from Israel. He created the Elevated Benches at the Design Academy in Eindhoven. He has a wide range of unusual designs which you can see on his website at

The bus stop on top of a mountain peak is indeed a real bus stop. It is part of Switzerland's Post Bus service, photographed in 2009 by Swissclimb at Wikimedia under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. Since the German word for bench is bank, I don't think this sitzbank has anything to do with financial institutions. 

Jan Williams is a photographer at  The Caravan Gallery's exhibitions are seriously thought-provoking, distressingly perceptive and beautifully absurd. That's what it says on the website and it's absolutely true. Hood-D has pretty much nailed the source of the photographs here. The chair in the empty bus shelter is in Cornwall and it's from the Liverpool Biennial Exhibition in 2012. The Abnormal bus stop is from Bristol Street Scenes. 

Sheila B. takes beautiful photographs from her home in Cyprus and elsewhere. She has a real eye for colour and light and I am lucky to be in receipt of the gorgeous cards she makes from the photos. 

The graffitied bus stop is near Lassi in Kefalonia. It's warm so they don't need glass in the windows, fortunately. This means vandals like Biff have to find something else to do. For some lovely Greek benches see what we found on our Greek Bench Mission Impossible

The bus stop with a view is on the Quay in Minehead in Somerset. It has an uninterrupted view of the Bristol Channel and on a clear day you can see across to Wales. 

If you're a Doctor Who fan you might recognise the police call box which isn't all it seems. I saw this one in use as a garden shed at the allotments in Devizes, Wiltshire in September 2019.

The surfboard bus stop is in Big Island, Hawaii, where Jen R. lives. She's an RN who moved to Hawaii in 1995 and loves the ocean. She photographed what she calls The Gussied Up Bus stop in 2010.

Bonita Springs is in Florida. It looks like a great place to live. Anywhere you can pick a banana while waiting for the bus must be a great place to live. Chris Griffith is a realtor at Downing Frye Realty Inc. so he'd be the one to show you around

The Edible Bus Stop project empowers communities by transforming neglected and unused space along the Route 322 bus in South London.  People waiting at bus stops along the route will be inspired by thriving community gardens. The Edible Bus Stop project has won a number of awards including a Gold Medal at the National Gardening Show 2012.  If you look at their website you can see lots of fertile urban gardens, some with benches planned into them. The project is being formally launched in May.

The bus stop spied through the round hole is in Kabelvag in Lofoten, Norway. It was photographed in 2009 by Sveter Sveter, also known as SveterCZE. I know nothing about Sveter but he has some gorgeous sets of Norway.   For lots of cold and snowy benches, including some Frozen ones, see

The Tapirgal from Astoria, Oregon photographed this bus stop in Belize in 2005. She raises money for tapir conservation and has a variety of blogs and daily photos which are always a delight. You can see some of her work at

The vandal-proof benches are at the Thielplatz stop of the Berlin U-bahn. OK, not exactly a bus stop but who cares? The photograph was taken by my much-travelled cousin Debra Conn, who, like me, is descended from the Thiel family. There are lots more benches from Germany at

We have a whole alphabet of Dutch benches ere on Benchsite. Desiree Palmen is a Dutch artist based in Rotterdam. She has many beautiful works of people blending, dissolving and disappearing into their surroundings. Bus Stop is from 2002. You can see her amazing work at

There are four pictures of the bus station benches in Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, all by Editor5807, taken in 2010 and 2011 and made available on Wiki Commons. This is a busy bus station and in some ways, it's not too bad as bus stations go. On the one hand, I take Hood-D's point that the area is lacking soul. But with guys like Biff around, what can you do with public spaces? 

Jen Stamp takes haunting photographs of abandoned places. Her black and white Waiting at the Bus Stop photo is the Austin Mueller Airport in Texas, which was abandoned in 1999. This and many other photographs are available from her website at

The French vintage bus stop print is from Julien in Tours. He has a wide range of colourful vintage French school posters from the 1950s. His shop sells posters, photos and vintage rubber stamps and is at

Abe Olson's eight page comic book, Harrowing Tales at the Bus Stop, is available from his etsy shop at  Having seen the cover, you might want to read the rest. Send him $1 and you can have it. 

The bus stop in Sweden was photographed by Lynne Woodward, who lives above the Arctic Circle in Kiruna. Lynne and Rolf run the 68 Degrees bed and breakfast hotel and they are excellent guides to all there is to see and do in Lapland.    Lynne writes a fascinating blog about life in the arctic: elk noses, sled dogs, cold swims, warm socks, extreme picnicking and yes, Northern Lights.  

There are Bus Stop booties galore on the etsy site of Crochele. They're beautifully crocheted by Michele from Portland, who also does cool crochet clothing, accessories and home goods.  When the weather turns cold, we love woolly warm things here on Benchsite - especially benches

The bench in the desert is actually an art work by Ned Thanhouser in 2010. It was for the Burning Man festival in Black Rock, Nevada, city of Metropolis. It was photographed by Eccentric Jeff, a video editor and keen Burning Man festival goer. His Flickr photostream includes sets from many Burning Man and other festivals and eccentric events.

Back of Beyond is the title of the bus stop picture with the two men in bowler hats. They're on a bench in the, um, back of beyond. The photo is by Violscraper, who accepted a Make It Interesting Challenge in March 2008. Starting with a starter image of something relatively boring, the challenge is to use different textures, backgrounds, and content from a range of images to create something new and delightful. For this image Violscraper used material from seven different sites. Back of Beyond was a great success and appears in 23 Flickr groups.

'Despondency' is a character from John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, published in 1673.

Helen Danby is from the Isle of Wight (not Paradise Island). She took the photos of the vintage Island Vectis bus which used to be called the Seaview Service. She was indeed a conductress on Island Vectis back when they had well good benches. 

Bruno Taylor is a London designer who created Playful Spaces, such as the swing in the bus stop. He is interested in design in its social context and works for Design Against Crime and other public organisations. He describes himself as passionate and committed to design and innovation which tackles social challenges.

Tracy Olson lives in Victoria, BC. She  photographed the colourful armchair bench on Capitol Hill in Seattle.

The Marilyn Monroe Bus Stop earrings are by Annette Blazon in New Hampshire. She has a huge collection of interesting earrings and other jewelry at   I LOVE the typewriter earrings and there are book earrings of every imaginable title. The Bus Stop earrings cost £12.10.

You can probably tell which photographs are mine. They're the dull ones from Paradise Island. Here are Cora and Dora Boran waiting for the bus, before the smashing incident. 


  1. An edible bus stop! ;-) I've seen interesting bus stops in my travels. I'll be sure to capture any that I run past again!

  2. All interesting bus stops will be gratefully received and added to this post!

    Many thanks for your banana tree bench. I hope all is well in Bonita Springs.


  3. I agree with you. This post is truly inspirational. I like your post and all you share with us is up to date and quite informative, i would like to bookmark the page so i can come here again to read you, as you have done a wonderful job.
    bus from lcct

  4. Thank you, Jack. It's lovely to hear your positive comments. The Bus Stops post is different from my other posts and I have a real soft spot for it. I took a bit of a gamble on The Agro and they came up trumps so I'll maybe find another post for them to edit sometime.

    Hope you enjoy the rest.