Finding Ways To Best Reduce Heat Stress At Bus Stops

sun tran

Ever felt like a melted popsicle waiting for the bus? Sun Tran dove into a cool study to figure out how to beat the heat at bus stops.

While Tucson is located in the hottest desert, it is also an urban area that is suffering from the Urban Heat Island effect. Structures in the built environment generally absorb and re-emit heat than natural structures. July 2023 was Tucson’s hottest month on record and hit triple-digit temperature highs each day. The increase in extreme heat is escalating and can only be expected to become more devastating each year.

On average, Sun Tran has over 51,000 daily riders, each one waiting at a bus stop. When physical bus shelters are not available, riders rely on nearby vegetation for relief from the sun. Vegetation surrounding each bus stop varies but it is alarmingly scarce along major roadway corridors and newly developed lands.

On August 4, 2023, Sun Tran staff visited multiple bus stops throughout the City of Tucson and measured both ambient and ground temperatures. By gathering this data at varying bus stops, Sun Tran staff were able to identify the amenities that best reduces heat. Bus stops that have vegetation nearby were found to have lower ambient air temperatures than bus stops without vegetation. The presence of a bus stop shelter notably reduces the ground temperature, but it was also equally as effective in cooling the ambient air.  Read the full article.