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Advice to Volunteers:

Clearing Bus Stops in Winter

I. Hazards

A. Conditions


Usually, you will be working alongside a major arterial road or highway. The traffic may be heavy and fast. Stay aware.


In many cases you will be clearing your stop under conditions of poor visibility. Wear light colored or reflective clothing and be aware that motorists may not see you. Reflective safety vests are available for our volunteers. Just ask.

Snow & ice Conditions

Be aware of both the condition of the snow (maybe icy) and the surface on which you’re standing. That surface may be very slippery. If you anticipate ice underfoot, wear ice creepers.

B. Protect Yourself

Work slowly--Protect your Body.

At times the snow you’re clearing may be very heavy and/or refrozen wet snow. Lift small shovelfuls and use your legs to lift, rather than bending over from the waist. Take frequent rests.

Minimize your exposure to traffic.

For the most part, clear by starting from the sidewalk and work toward the street. Once you have cleared through the plowed windrow on the street, turn left (facing the traffic) and clear enough space for a second person. That way, drivers are more likely to see you and you have a better chance to duck out of way if one doesn’t.

Not all conditions permit completion.

By the time you get to your stop, the “snow” may be frozen solid. Know when to give up: Don’t try to be a superhero doing this work!

4.   Call for help if you need it.

We hope to have some volunteers lined up as “backups”, but we don't have them now. Your city or bus system may have personnel available to complete the job. Just let your Volunteer Coordinator know.

II.    Strategy

A. Where to clear

1. A dilemma

Sometimes the best spot to clear is not right next to the bus stop sign. If there's a nearby crosswalk (marked or unmarked) with an "apron" or "ramp" for use by wheelchairs, we recommend clearing that, instead. In winter, bus drivers are alert to the possibility that they need to stop there, rather than the spot marked by the sign.

B.When to start clearing your stop

1.   Pre-clearing

When a major snowfall is expected, it may be to your advantage to get out during the storm to do preliminary clearing. This is just a suggestion. If you do, be especially aware of the limited visibility conditions that usually prevail at the time.

2.   Notification from Volunteer Coordinator or your city

Once the streets and sidewalks have been cleared by your city, please start your stop clearing as soon as you’re able. If you're keeping on eye on your stop, use your best judgement about when to start.

3.   Notify Volunteer Coordinator or your backup if you have a Problem.

If, for some reason, you anticipate a long delay before you can complete clearing your stop, please notify the Coordinator or your designated backup (if you have one.)

C. Revisiting

1.   Follow-up plowing may require more work.

For large storms, or a sequence of storms, your city’s plows may return to perform a “cleanup,” thereby leaving a new windrow across your cleared stop. We’ll try to keep you informed of that, but please try to pay attention and go out to clear that. (Plowing snow on streets is an inherently imprecise business!)

2.   Call for help if needed.

Don't be a superhero.

III.   Standards

A. Cleared access width: (38” for wheelchairs)

This is somewhat wider than the standard for a wheelchair ramp, but it allows for some drifting or “down-tumbling” from the snow adjacent to your path.

B. Standing space

This may not always be possible, but is generally a good idea to allow space for a second bus user to stand. It should be to the left (as you face the street) of the opening of the path you’ve created

C. Piling snow

The situation from one stop to another varies considerably, but is generally a good idea to throw the snow on the far side of the sidewalk (away from the space between the street and the sidewalk. However, many situations will not allow this: Just use common sense.

IV. Keep in Touch

Report Problems

This work is rarely easy. If there is anything we can do to improve the situation for you, please let us know.

B. Suggest solutions

Adopt-A-Stop is still a fairly new program for our metropolitan area. No doubt, we have overlooked or not anticipated problems. Please let us know.


Thank you for your efforts.

We’re pleased that you've taken on this responsibility. Our volunteers’ efforts make it easier and safer for people to use our bus systems. Hopefully, that will encourage more people to use the buses, thereby reducing traffic congestion and air pollution.


Volunteer Coordinator (especially for Portland):

Robert Wagner: Contact by email

Telephone (especially if you need a quick response): (207) 408-4404

South Portland Coordinator (for problem resolution):

Rick Sargent:

Telephone: 767-5556


Updated 3/18/13