By: Wesley Martin
On Monday, The City of Pensacola held a meeting along with vendor, Martin Mency, to discuss tactful design and arrangement of new ADA-compliant bus benches and shelters within city limits.
“This is a contract to replace the current benches with newer ones,” said Chief of Neighborhoods, Helen Gibson.
On Monday’s meeting, community stakeholders and citizens asked questions ranging from site sanitation to vandalism.
“Pensacola is one of the cleanest programs we’re running,” said Tom Comeau, an Operations Executive for Martin Outdoor Media.
According to Comeau, the bench replacement project won’t cost the city anything.
“The city is our boss,” Comeau continued. “Everything we do is approved by the city. If the city tells us to move a bench, we will move that bench – If the city tells us to place a bench, we will place a bench.”
Martin Mency, an advertising agency, pays for all costs associated with the bench replacement project. To offset the expense, the agency sells bus bench advertising. In other municipalities, like Lake County, Fla., the agency also sells bus wrap advertising.
According to the five-year agreement between the city and Martin Mency, the city also receives a percentage from all advertisement sales.
While many who attended Monday’s meeting were interested in the city’s improvement efforts, others touched on issues closely related – but overlooked.
“Every single locale has to be approved by the ADA coordinator,” said Sherri Myers, city council representative for District 2.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that guarantees people with disabilities full and equal access to the same services and accommodations available to people without disabilities. Under the ADA, public buses that run on regular schedules along specific routes must be accessible to people with disabilities.
“If the bench is not ADA accessible,” Myers said, “the bench does not need to be there.”
Myers, whose district encompasses the Cordova neighborhood and Pensacola International Airport, said 80 percent of the city business community is located in her district.
“A lot of people catch the bus to Cordova and Sacred Heart Hospital,” Myers said. “I often see trash at those bus site locations,” she said with emphasis.
Comeau stated that though his agency does some upkeep at each site locale, trash pickup and regular maintenance is not inclusive in the current agreement with the city.
“Those services would cost extra,” Comeau said.
According to goecat.com: ECAT currently has 1,500+ bus stops covering 285 miles of routes with a record 1.6 million annual passenger trips.