By Sabina Mollot
The city has installed its first solar-powered bus shelter, with a location outside Stuyvesant Town picked as the place for a pilot program.
According to a spokesperson for the Department of Transportation, the project was being funded not by the city but a Paris-based company that runs outdoor advertising campaigns called JCDecaux. If the lighting works out well, the company will also pay for other transitions to solar panel-powered lighting at non-powered shelters throughout the city as part of a franchise agreement.
Currently, JCDecaux is responsible for 3,000 bus shelters throughout the five boroughs as well as 300 newsstands. The company is now in its 10th year of partnership with the city and handles installation and maintenance of street furniture.
Meanwhile, the new lighting outside Stuyvesant Town at the shelter on Avenue C and 16th Street comes two and a half years after an elderly woman was fatally struck nearby by a Con Ed truck. The woman, 88-year-old Stuyvesant Town resident Stella Huang, had attempted to cross the street in the dark.
Stuy Town resident and Community Board 6 Transportation Committee member, Larry Scheyer, in recalling that incident, said the bus stop had been without lighting then and long before it happened. “This one was like this since at least 2009,” he said.
Council Member Dan Garodnick, who had been pushing the DOT for new lighting on the Avenue C location for some time, said he was told there were a number of technical difficulties in getting power to that spot. One reason he was given was that it would have been necessary to draw power from a cable across the street from a nearby traffic signal.
“They didn’t think it was practical,” said Garodnick. “It was physically possible but was much more complicated than your average shelter. So solar was a great solution.”
Despite the wait, he cheered the arrival of solar at the bus stop.
“This is a pilot and it is an appropriate place because of the challenges,” said Garodnick.
He noted the shelter’s solar system was installed last Wednesday with the lights having since gone on each day starting at dusk.
Scheyer, who’d also been hounding the DOT for lighting, said he was “delighted” to learn of the pilot program. He added that along with safety, it was also just more practical.
“It will make you visible to the bus driver so he won’t go past you.”
There are 390 bus shelters throughout the city that don’t have nearby power sources for lighting, according to the DOT. At this time, there are no plans to convert electrically powered shelters to solar.