I was walking home with the lady a couple of days ago when we both did a double-take; a hole in the pavement had replaced the bus shelter in front of our deli. The woman on the stoop next door laughed out loud, and added, "I was looking for it too!" Had an errant bus plowed it over? Had someone made off with it?
Nope--it was just an outdated model. Though the city's bus stops aren't covered under cars-for-clunkers, Spanish specialists Cemusa (I thought it was an acronym for something like "Coordinated Entertainment Marketing USA," but I was wrong) have been replacing the city's bus stops and newsstands (and adding public, self-cleaning toilets) since 2006 to great acclaim, according to a study they released earlier this year. To date, they've replaced 1,586 bus shelters, 130 newsstands, and installed two toilets (of a projected 3,300, 300, and 20, respectively). The shelters made some Brooklyn noise earlier this year when they were installed on the threatened B23 bus route in Kensington.
The new shelters do look pretty spiffy, though I had no trouble with the old ones and at first my reaction was "does the city really have no better way to spend this money in the midst of a Jolly Green Giant-sized crunch?" However, since Cemusa is actually paying NYC for the right to put up their "street furniture" (sounds like either an Ikea fad or an indie art movement), and (hopefully) employing some locals to do it, I've got no complaints. If anyone succeeds in securing an old shelter to redecorate, let me know--sounds like a good photo.