When we started mapping public transport stops, some people insisted on mapping them on nodes next to the way, others thought the right way to do it, was to add them as nodes being part of the highway, thereby losing the information on which side of the road the bus stop was.
Then somebody came by with the idea to unite both ways of mapping. In itself that sounds great. But where do we add the details then? On both? That doesn't really make sense. It's a maintenance nightmare.
So we still have some people adding the stops as stop_position nodes on the highways and others mapping them as isolated nodes next the ways as public_transport=platform. But of course a node is not a platform, so others map those as ways and areas. Nothing wrong with that, but why do we need to add all the details to these ways?
For some reason it was decided that both these stop_postion nodes and the platform ways/nodes need to be added over and over again to the route relations. These route relations represent each and every variation of the public transport lines, so there are thousands of them. Another maintenance nightmare.
Why can't we have a node next to the way, with all the relevant details and add those nodes to the route relations, then followed by a continuous string of ways? The node gets tagged public_transport=platform/highway=bus_stop.
The node isn't always representing an actual platform. If there is a platform, nothing wrong with representing it as a way or an area. But there is no real need to duplicate all the details like name/ref/route_ref/zone to these ways. And there isn't really a need to add them to the route relations.
For the simplest bus stops a node next to the way public_transport=platform/highway=bus_stop is all that is needed. It contains all the relevant information and it has coordinates, which makes it convenient to compare it to data from operators.
For more completely mapped bus stops, benches and waste_baskets can be added.
If you want to make explcit where the vehicle stops, a public_transport=stop_position can be added on the highway. For the first and last stops, the way should be split there, as it's the beginning or end of the route.
But these stop_position nodes are not all that important, so no real need to map them for every stop. Also no reason why the stop details should be repeated on them and no real need to add them to the route relations. It's enough to add them to stop_area relations.