Photo via SF Streets Blog by Matthew Roth
While some bus stop ideas are pretty futuristic, solar powered bus stops have been around for awhile. Back in April, we heard San Francisco was planning to install solar powered bus stops, and last week Mayor Gavin Newsom cut the ribbon on the city's first. It's a prototype of what will be 1,100 new bus stops installed city-wide, capable of not only sending excess power back to the grid after the LED lighting has used its fill, but also providing free wi-fi access for those waiting. The wavy top houses solar panels that generate enough electricity to power the LED lights and NextMuni arrival display. Any excess energy would be pumped back into the grid.
The free wi-fi access is really the highlight, making it that much more appealing to wait for the bus, though I'm not sure how many people will whip out their netbooks for a 15 minute wait. Then again, I would.
The city increased its fair rate an additional $0.50, effective July,
and installing these solar powered bus stops is likely where a chunk of the higher fees will go. [We're assured by San Francisco MTA that income from the increased fairs will not go to the solar bus stops. Rather, it's Clear Channel that is covering them.]
I cringe to think about the potential for destruction on these things. Each one is priced between $25, 000-$30,000, a cost that Clear Channel will be footing and recouping through advertising revenue (with 55% of the revenues to be shared with the MTA for the first 15 years of the contract). With 1,100 going in between now and 2013, that's a big chunk of change. Let's hope the solar panels don't disappear too often. However, according to SF Streets Blog, "The shelters are made of materials that are meant to reduce maintenance costs and resist some forms of graffiti and etching, which Mayor Newsom said was a bane of the older shelters and an eyesore."
So now you can swing on the BART, and surf at the MUNI. Nice job, San Francisco.