[IMAGE]DART-stop-full.jpg[/IMAGE]In an effort to protect the environment and cut operating costs, Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) is equipping its new bus shelters and stops with solar-powered lighting.
The $8.5 million, five-year project, using a mix of 80 percent federal and 20 percent local funds, will install 177 energy efficient bus shelters annually.
DART is evaluating the success of an initial 78 solar-powered bus stops called I-STOPs. Offering security down-lighting, schedule illumination and a rider-signaling device, the new solar-powered light brings an increased feeling of safety and security to the rider experience. Another benefit is it allows bus operators to see customers at night, which reduces accidental bus pass-bys.
Adding lighting at shelters and stops is expensive due to the high cost of electricity, construction costs, and the periodic moving or removing of bus stops, according to agency officials. These new solar-powered units provide a cost savings and they can be moved or relocated where they are the most effective.
Currently, DART has installed solar-powered bus stops at Haskell and Live Oak, Second and Jefferson, and Northwest Highway at Pickwick. Three new solar-powered shelters with solar-powered lighting are at Clark and Clarkridge, Harry Hines Blvd. at Royal Lane, and Scyene at Buckner.
DART has roughly 13,000 bus stops throughout its 13 member cities. Approximately 700 have shelters. Every new shelter built by DART from now on will have solar lighting if tree canopy and other factors permit. DART is also retrofitting earlier shelters so that in five years most will be illuminated with solar power.