From the OBJ article:
“I’d sell the stations,” [Lawrence Solomon,] writer and founder of Energy Probe, an environmental agency, said in a recent interview.
“I’d put them up for auction and allow retailers to bid on them … Mall developers would be very interested (and) would figure out the best way to get people in and facilitate passenger (movement).”
Mr. Solomon suggests transit operators look to modern airports for inspiration, where shopping areas and concourses are oriented to be part of a passenger’s experience, and generate large amounts of revenue for terminal operators.
An interesting idea indeed.
Obviously, the functionality of the space needs to be retained; transit stations need to be first and foremost designed to allow people to easily transfer to and from buses so they can get where they're going. But if opening up transit stations to retail developers can improve the experience of the transit user, then I think it could be a win-win.
The article above mentioned Hurdman Station as a particularly drab place to transfer buses; it's also a station I go through most days, and one I considered when thinking about this idea. My imagination brought out a vision of a similarly wide-open ground floor, to offer some shelter and also allow people to move back and forth between platforms. But I'd picture a cafe or coffee house along with a slightly larger convenience store, and heck, maybe even a second story with a place to get some grub.
Maybe through it all, transit stations could be made destinations themselves, rather than simply transfer points.