COVID-19: The Recovery will Happen in Public Space

Portals to Places Initiative

Imagine if our public spaces supported public transportation as the primary mode of everyday travel in our cities. Imagine if the station or stop where you board your bus or train every day was also where you shop, run errands, greet your neighbors, access retail, buy food, access public services, or do other activities that are an integral part of your daily life. Imagine a station and stop as the place where you gather to celebrate your community or even to envision and co-create its future. 

Project for Public Spaces is on a mission to transform the way these facilities and the areas around them are shaped to serve their most faithful—and vulnerable—users. Through our new Portals to Places initiative, we will transform these everyday destinations into hubs of activity that support the daily needs of people who rely most heavily on transit for physical and social mobility. In the coming year, we will achieve this goal through the following strategies: 

  • Tools: Developing strategies and a placemaking process to support transit professionals, planners, and community advocates in the rethinking and reshaping of transit stations and stops as community hubs.
  • Placemaking at Transit Stops: Providing placemaking and stakeholder engagement expertise to transit providers in reenvisioning their busiest stops.
  • Education: Building capacity among local transportation advocates and professionals to elevate the voices of their constituents in transit funding and improvement decision-making processes. 
  • Place-Based System Redesign: For cities and towns launching a system design or redesign process, introducing a place-based lens to better locate stations and stops and identify opportunities for improvements. 

By integrating a place-based approach into transit planning and design, we can achieve a broader set of benefits than what we usually might expect of a bus stop, including: 

  1. Multi-Use Destinations: The creation of new community destinations that foster commerce, social gathering, community, and a sense of place, and make station areas more desirable as places to live, work, learn, and play.
  2. Health and Sustainability: Reduced need for short trips to access daily destinations, and reduced dependence on automobiles.
  3. Smart Growth: Reintegration of public transit systems as backbones of the built environment, with stations serving as anchors for new and existing local businesses and institutions.
  4. Service Improvement: Increased ridership by direct improvement to the overall experience prior to boarding and upon arrival. Transit investments and assets are leveraged to achieve community benefits such as parks, affordable housing, and jobs.
  5. Civic Engagement: Communities that are engaged and invested in a vision for neighborhood progress.

We want you to be a part of this journey, and to share your challenges, successes, and stories with us and your peers. Project for Public Spaces also offers a range of technical assistance and training services to help you and your passenger communities design transit stops, stations, and systems that will benefit the full rider experience and the community as a whole.

Want to bring Project for Public Spaces to your community? Reach out to our Portals to Places team at

Learn more about Portals to Places 

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COVID-19: The Recovery will Happen in Public Space