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Benches disappear at Los Angeles bus stops

August 12, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Thousands of bus benches are disappearing in Los Angeles, creating a very uncomfortable situation for passengers, many of them elderly.

Benches provide comfort for those who ride the bus, as well as a successful advertising tool for many businesses.

But now the company which owns 6,000 bus benches throughout Los Angeles has lost its contract with the city. And that company has started removing its benches, leaving bus riders with no place to sit.

"It matters to me because sometimes you're very tired and you just want to have a place to sit or at least to put your things," said Eagle Rock resident Angelica Merida.

According to the L.A. Board of Public Works, the city gave Norman Bench Advertising the exclusive contract to sell advertising space on the benches in exchange for $245,000 a year- a percentage of the ad profits.

But the city claims it never received its full share of the revenue and that Norman Bench Advertising failed to turn over its financial records. So the city didn't renew their contract.

Bus riders, particularly the elderly and students, don't really care about the dispute. They'd rather just have a place to sit while waiting for the bus.

"It's hard enough to ride the buses in this city," said Eagle Rock Resident John Pierce. "They'll just have to stand. A lot of the people are elderly and it's a bad thing."

The L.A. Board of Public Works president released a statement:

"Today we issued a letter to our existing bus bench contractor demanding that they immediately cease the removal of bus benches in our city. Our primary concern is to minimize inconveniences to bus-riding commuters, and we are working diligently to ensure that new bus benches will be installed as soon as possible."

Norman Bench Advertising did not respond to a request for comment. The city has a new proposed contract with another advertising media company, which is up for approval at next Tuesday's council meeting.

The city is asking anyone who sees a missing bus bench to contact their hotline number at 311.


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