Walmart Insensitive? Refuses To Allow Bus Shelter In Wallingford


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Robert Cyr

Public transit-using customers and employees of Walmart, which include Latinos, are being forced to wait for the bus in the sun, rain and snow due to the refusal of corporate decision makers to allow the town of Wallingford to erect a $10,000 bus shelter – for free.
“It’s more than bizarre; it’s absolute craziness,” said John Thompson, Wallingford town engineer. Thompson and his team started the two-year project in 2009 to erect a bus shelter near the busy Walmart on Route 5 after the Walmart manager approached him with the idea. In 2011, when the $10,000 project was federally funded and construction bids awarded, the town needed a 150-square-foot easement from Walmart to erect the shelter.
That’s when problems started occurring, he said. “At the 11th hour, we ran into a problem with Walmart’s corporate lawyers.  We spent a lot of time getting the money and designing the project, only to be stymied by the corporate attorney who had no clue who we were. They could not understand that we are a government entity. They refused. This was basically a gift to Walmart.”
Walmart representatives did not respond to’s request for comment on the issue.
In the meantime, riders of the heavily-used public transit system on the business-dotted Route 5 corridor through Meriden and Wallingford have been forced to turn over shopping carts for improvised seats outside of the Walmart, and people – often woman with small children – are forced to wait for the bus in the elements, said Santos Torres, a Wallingford resident who is trying to draw attention to the issue.   Torres has been photographing people waiting for the bus in various weather conditions and sent them to
“Something should be done…I can’t believe this is happening,” said Torres, 50. Torres does not work at Walmart, but uses the bus frequently to shop along Route 5, he said, where he sees many Latinos and others waiting for the bus in the snow and rain. “Its heartbreaking, that’s all,” he said. “I see elderly people out there waiting in the 90 degree heat, young mothers waiting in the rain. Walmart just said no, and no one knows why.”
According to state transportation department data, the Wallingford-Meriden bus lines are among the busiest in the eight- city bus lines, comprising more than half of the state funded public transportation budget and clocking in more than 36 million trips statewide.
In 2012 the town of Wallingford and the South Central Regional Council of Governments hired NelsonNygaard Consulting Associates and KMJ Associates to find ways to improve the attractiveness and usefulness of transit services. The study found that, according to recent Census figures, about 11 percent of Wallingford residents earned less than 150 percent of the federal poverty level, and several areas of Wallingford have an “acute need” for bus service.
Wallingford has a population of over 18,000 and nearly 15% of its residents are Hispanic according to the 2010 U.S. Census.