OCEAN CITY – A resort committee this week agreed to further research options for outfitting bus shelters with solar lights and implementing a pilot program that would test its effectiveness.
Resort officials came before the Ocean City Transportation Committee on Tuesday to present their findings regarding the use of lighting in or near the town’s bus shelters.
In an effort to illuminate otherwise dark and shaded bus shelters along Coastal Highway, resort officials in May presented the Ocean City Transportation Committee with the idea of installing solar lighting at all bus stops and bus shelters in town. From those preliminary discussions, officials were tasked with gathering price estimates and exploring options for lighting the bus stops.
Back on the agenda for discussion this week, Public Works Director Hal Adkins told the committee town staff had since researched two options for the town’s consideration. While the first option would use solar lights to brighten the inside of the bus shelter, the second option would be to convert existing street lights near the bus shelters to LED.
To test the capability of converted street lights, the town earlier this summer worked with Delmarva Power to install LED lights on utility poles near bus shelters at southbound 3rd and 142nd streets.
Transit Administrator Brian Connor, however, said the implementation of LED lighting revealed the shortcoming of using that method to brighten the bus shelters.
“The consensus is it’s whiter because it’s LED, but not necessarily brighter,” he said. “It didn’t really have an effect on the goal, which was a concern about shaded or dark areas.”
Connor noted that LED lights installed on the poles were either too high for the light to permeate the bus shelters’ translucent roofs or placed too sporadically.
“Some are placed close to the shelter while others may be in between,” he said.
Adkins said the town could either work with Delmarva Power to move or add LED lighting near the bus shelters, or look into placing solar lights within the bus shelters. He pointed out that the town already had an existing solar light at the 48th Street bus shelter.
“We can purchase some and install them inside shelters at three, six locations and see how that works,” he said. “That’s one option.”
City Engineer Terry McGean said his inspection of the 48th Street bus shelter revealed the solar units to be an effective method for lighting the bus stops.
“It does make a fairly big difference there and there is even a street light right there,” he said. “But the light levels inside the shelter were three or four times what they are just outside of it.”
McGean estimated that installing solar LED lights within the bus shelters would cost approximately $80,000, or between $1,800 and $2,000 per unit. He argued, however, that the option would be more cost effective than utilizing electric-powered LED lights.
“I expect it would be more cost effective to go with solar because if you had power you would essentially have a meter at every single one,” he said.
Committee member and Council President Lloyd Martin also pointed out the pole-mounted, electric-powered LED lights would not effectively light the bus shelters.
“Unless you lower them, you really aren’t going to light the bus shelters up,” he said. “That’s your problem. You either have to have a light inside or go down low.”
Mayor Rick Meehan, chair of the committee, suggested staff research solar options and come back to the committee with additional recommendations.
“Maybe a pilot program is exactly what we want to do,” he said.
Adkins noted that staff’s recommendation from a prior committee meeting set the cost of a pilot program at $11,000.
“That equated to three different designs at two different locations …,” he said.
However, Meehan said he would like to see the pilot program include more bus shelters.
“I hope if we do a pilot program it would be more than two locations,” he said.