Adopt a shelter

Adopt a Shelter!

If you’re a frequent transit user, you no doubt have a bus or train stop where you start most of your trips. Whether it’s a nice new shelter, a heated train stop, or just a pole in the grass, it’s the launching pad for whatever adventure you’re taking that day (or maybe just going to work!).

That launching pad may not always be at its best. One day you might wake up to find that it’s been defaced with graffiti, hit by a car, or even just had its light burned out.

Some of the tags and damage spotted over the years.

With over 960 shelters spread across the region, Metro Transit relies on regular riders to report those incidents, and to make sure that shelters are staying in good shape. As part of that process, they also have an Adopt-a-Shelter program, which encourages local residents, businesses, and other groups to “adopt” the shelter they frequent or are near, and regularly monitor its condition.

Adopt a shelter
Students from Brooklyn Center Secondary who adopted a shelter at 65th/Dupont, near the school, after it was installed in 2017. Photo provided by Metro Transit.

According to Drew Kerr, public relations specialist for Metro Transit, out of those total 960 shelters though, only about 60 or so have been adopted. That can vary by region. For example in the City of Brooklyn Center almost every shelter has been adopted by a community group or business. According to Kerr, that took the hard work of a dedicated resident, Diane Sannes, who worked to get almost all shelters covered by someone.

A little over three years ago I started down the road to adopt my nearest bus shelter at 44th Ave S and Lake Street. I regularly ride the 21 with my kids, and I know how much a good shelter can make the difference when riding transit with young kids. When we’re stuck at night at a shelter with no light, or in winter at one with broken glass panels, it can turn the most fun part of our outing — getting there by bus — into a real challenge.

Alex at bus shelter
Me, the day they put the sign up on the shelter.

The process of adopting our shelter was straightforward. I interviewed for the adoption, which Kerr says helps ensure that individuals understand the full scope of the commitment they’re undertaking. From that moment on, I’ve served as an extra set of eyes and ears on the stop, reporting issues like tagging, vomit and broken glass. The shelter has been tagged or otherwise defaced a few times, but thanks to the team at Metro Transit it’s always cleaned off within 24 hours of me reporting it.

While it’s not much, adopting my frequently used shelter has made me feel a little prouder every time I start my journey, and made every ride with my kids a little more special.Want to adopt your own shelter? The process is fairly easy – start here and learn more about all that’s involved.

Alex Tsatsoulis

About Alex Tsatsoulis

Alex is a Minneapolis resident, dad to two kids, and multi-modal advocate with a passion for making bicycling, transit, and walking fun and accessible for all. Alex's favorite bus line is the 21.