In a different kind of finals bracket, bus stops in two New England cities are in contention to be named the best in the U.S. this year.
Stops in Boston and Portland, Maine, are engaged in a mass transit melee, with infrastructure from both cities reaching the final round of a contest called "America's Best Bus Stops 2022."
Over the past few weeks, bus stops in cities like Juneau, Alaska; San Diego and Milwaukee have been under consideration in a tournament of online voting on Streetsblog USA, a website dedicated to connecting "people to information about how to reduce dependence on cars and improve conditions for walking, biking and transit."
In the end, it comes down to two finalists: A bus shelter on Congress Street in Portland and another that sits on Walnut Avenue and Columbus Avenue in Boston.
Over the next several days, a winner will be chosen by popular vote.
"We want to spotlight the underdog," said Dinah Minot, the executive director of Creative Portland, an official nonprofit arts agency in the city that oversaw a campaign to remake bus shelters across Portland like the one in a way that celebrated community diversity.
The shelter was designed by Maine artist Ebenezer Akapo, who used colorful panels of metal to surround the structure and incorporate traditional symbols of "friendship" and "hope" from Ghana, from where he emigrated.
"You could have all those elements and light and shade coming through," said Minot.
She is hopeful the project will win the website contest and show that the social impact of public art created using a tight budget can be "profound."
"We're really lucky," said Richae Morrow, an employee of an arts store next to the shelter who says she sees adults and children sitting in and taking pictures of the bus stop often.
She also hoped the structure would win the contest.
"Definitely," said Shirley Miller, a Portland resident who hopped on a bus at the stop immediately after an interview on Wednesday.