Resort To Try Out Solar Bus Shelters

OCEAN CITY — Resort transportation officials this month endorsed a pilot program to brighten some of the town’s darker municipal bus shelters with solar-powered lighting systems.

Nearly all of the town’s bus shelters are provided by the Columbia Equipment Company, which has available a compatible solar-powered lighting system at a cost of just under $1,000 per unit. Some of the larger shelters would require two units, while most would require just one. Public Works Director Hal Adkins suggested starting with a couple as part of a pilot program before committing to lighting all shelters.

“I’m not going to suggest we buy 10 of them,” he said. “We might start with one or two to see how it works. We’ve already identified some of our darker shelters.”

Adkins explained there are around 50 bus shelters up and down Coastal Highway, some of which need enhanced lighting more than others. In some cases, the existing street lighting or ambient light from nearby businesses is sufficient, while others are in dark, unlit areas creating safety concerns. Adkins said a pilot program could be used on the latter before committing to a larger program.

“We’ve identified as many as 18 in need of some illumination,” he said. “I just don’t want to get in a position where I’m asking for $20,000 to do all of them. We just want to do a couple right now.”

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Councilman and committee member Mark Paddack agreed with the concept, but said the initial program shouldn’t be limited by cost concerns at the expense of improved safety.

“Some of these are higher priority than others,” he said. “We need to pick the most critical ones. If it turns out we need more than just the two or three, we can work that out. From a comfort standpoint, we have to make sure our customers feel safe. That has to be a priority for us.”

Adkins agreed safety and comfort were paramount.

“I’m assuming the goal was lighting some of the shelters that are dark and not safe for the user,” he said. “The goal is to light up the shelters so people don’t feel uncomfortable in them while waiting for the bus.”

In addition, Adkins said his department was exploring ways to brighten some of the darker parking meters in the municipal lots and on the streets.

“We have not forgotten the issue of lighting some of the darker Partheon parking meters,” he said. “We’re still working on that.”

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.