Solar Lighting Weighed For OC Bus Stops

OCEAN CITY — In the interest of public safety and economy, resort officials are exploring brightening the bus stops and bus shelters throughout town with solar lighting.

During Tuesday’s Transportation Committee meeting, Transportation Director Mark Rickards brought up the topic of adding solar lighting to the resort’s bus stops and bus shelters. While most of the town’s 123 bus stops, of which 46 are larger, covered shelters, are generally well lit with street lighting and ambient light from nearby businesses, others a shadowy and dark at night and not always entirely safe.

Rickards explained one bus stop was outfitted with solar lighting as a test of sorts about a decade ago and it has proven effective. However, the 10-year-old solar lighting system is in need of repair and while staff is exploring repairs to that single stop, Rickards suggested it might be a good time to explore solar lighting for all of the bus stops and shelters.

“The one bus shelter at 48th Street had solar lighting installed about 10 years ago,” he said. “Now, it is in need of repair. I thought it might be a good time to consider solar lighting for all of the bus stops.”

Mayor Rick Meehan urged Rickards and staff to begin exploring the costs and benefits of switching to solar lighting on the bus stops. He said some of the stops are currently not entirely safe because of poor lighting.

“I think it would be a good idea,” he said. “It would really set them out and brighten them up. Some of them are very dark at night and it becomes a public safety issue.”

Councilman Tony DeLuca agreed and referenced to ongoing campaign to better light some of the otherwise dark alley ways in the downtown area.

“Lighting is a good thing,” he said. “Any time we can get more we should do it. We just have to figure out the cost and how best to do it.”

Rickards said he had done some cursory research and found the cost of adding solar lighting at each of the town’s existing bus stops and shelters would likely come with a price tag in a range of $900 to $2,600. City Engineer Terry McGean said it would likely depend on the lumens needed to effectively light the bus stops, each of which have different circumstances.

“In a pitch-black setting, solar is wonderful,” he said. “In areas where there is a lot of ambient light, it can be less effective. I think we can get the manufacturer to do some tests at their expense. We can also look at some grant opportunities …”

After some debate, the committee voted to get estimates and explore grant opportunities for lighting the bus stops with solar.

“I think we need to inventory all of the bus stops,” Councilman Dennis Dare said. “Out of the 123, I’m certain there are some that are well-lit already. The one at the Wine Rack uptown I think ships at sea can see it.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.