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'Showing that the community cares about this' | Grassroots organization working to add benches at Charlotte bus stops

Organizers say it's a small way the group can make a big difference in the lives of people who utilize public transit every day.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — One Charlotte grassroots organization is trying to ease the load on public transit riders.

Charlotte Urbanists is working to add benches at bus stops where there’s not currently any seating.

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The group tweeted out pictures Monday showing the before and after from installing its first bench in Southwest Charlotte along South Tryon Street near West Arrowood Road.

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Jacob Unterreiner and John Holmes are organizers with the Charlotte Urbanists group who are passionate about the project.

"I'm a pretty big transit user here in the Charlotte area,” Holmes said. "A lot of these stops are just a sign by the side of the road that you just have to stand there, and it's something you don't think about."

Unterreiner said he came up with the idea for seating at bus stops and tried to do something about it last year with folding chairs from a thrift store. Unfortunately, he said the folding chairs didn’t last very long.

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Now, the two are working to help Charlotte Urbanists fundraise to build benches for bus stops through a GoFundMe page.

"It really does change the actual environment that you're participating in,” Holmes said. “I just want people to know that, 'Hey, you know, like you are meant to be here at this transit stop, and even if you're not getting on the bus, this is a bench for you to enjoy.'"

Unterreiner is building the benches at a cost of about $80 per bench, depending on the cost of lumber.

Credit: WCNC

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The group decided the first bench would be installed along South Tryon Road near West Arrowood Road after putting out a survey and receiving responses that the area was in need of seating.

"Before I went there, there was actually several people standing there waiting for a bus, and I watched them stand there, you know, with their groceries and whatever for 10, 15 minutes,” Unterreiner said. “Then, after that bus left, I was able to go in and put the bench in, and it was really cool to see — the next time they come there they'll have somewhere to sit."

Charlotte Urbanists put out stickers with QR codes that lead to its survey at several other bus stops around the city.

“What we’re trying to go for here is we see a small problem that we can fix,” Holmes said. “We’re going to do it as soon as possible, and then try and repeat that again as soon as possible afterwards.”

The responses from the survey will help the organization determine where it places future benches.

“It’s really just about showing that the community cares about this and that we want to make it happen as quickly as possible,” Unterreiner said.

Contact Kendall Morris at kmorris2@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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