Management & Operations

N.Y. MTA testing solar-powered kiosks that provide real-time info

Posted on April 23, 2014

Photo: Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Aaron Donovan
Photo: Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Aaron Donovan

The MTA, Metro-North Railroad and New York City Transit are testing the performance and reliability of solar-powered kiosks that allow customers to access real-time train, subway and bus arrival information without connection to the electrical grid.

The two solar-powered kiosks use MTA Subway Time and MTA Bus Time to provide Metro-North customers with real-time arrival estimates for connecting subways and buses at Metro-North’s Woodlawn station. The kiosks also display Metro-North upcoming scheduled train arrivals, and they will display real-time estimates for Metro-North arrivals later this spring.

“We are pleased that despite one of the harshest winters on record, with multiple days of sub-freezing temperatures and at least a half dozen severe ice and snow storms, the kiosks have continued to operate as intended," Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti said. "These kiosks have the potential for deployment in any above-ground station where running conduits for electrical and data connectivity pose a challenge.”

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Powered 100% by sunlight, the kiosks draw no power from the electrical grid and can remain active for 10 days without needing to be recharged by the sun. Because they are completely solar-powered and receive the real-time information wirelessly, the kiosks are not dependent on any external wiring for installation and operation. This makes them fully self-contained and easy to install with no required street closures, electrical connections or cable installation.

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While solar-powered kiosks are extensively used in Europe, this pilot is the one of the first fully solar-powered application displaying real-time information in the U.S.

The MTA is evaluating the performance of the kiosks to assess whether the solar panels, batteries and screens can withstand New York’s year-round weather. Kiosks are topped by a photovoltaic panel and consume 70 watt hours per day, and the screens refresh every 15 seconds.

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