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New Jersey Unveils Solar-Powered, USB-Equipped Bus Shelter

NJ Transit and state and local officials unveiled an experimental bus stop in Cherry Hill that has high-intensity LED lighting and a two-port USB charging outlet that is solar-powered. The station cost $11,900.

(TNS) — On a typical bad weather New Jersey day, a bus shelter is a welcome oasis for passengers seeking a place to stay dry or get out of the wind or sun until the bus comes.

But that’s about all bus shelters have done, until now.

NJ Transit, municipal officials and state legislators held a ceremony unveiling a bus shelter of the future on Monday that provides more.

An experimental solar-powered bus shelter is being tested at a busy bus stop in Cherry Hill. Besides providing shelter for the passengers who board the 406 bus to Philadelphia at Route 70 and South Cornell Avenue in Cherry Hill, the shelter has solar panels on the roof to power lights in the shelter and USB outlets for riders to charge their devices.

The new shelter has high intensity LED lighting for visibility and safety, a two-port USB charging outlet, powered by a solar battery. It also has a motion sensor that will automatically turn the lights on and off to conserve the battery.

Manufactured by HandiHut, the shelter costs $11,900, said Jim Smith, an NJ Transit spokesman.

NJ Transit officials plan to evaluate how the shelter performs before determining whether to install more solar shelters in other parts of the state.

Among the deciding factors are how durable the shelter’s components are, how well the solar panels hold up to the weather, the reliability of the batteries and if the USB ports hold up to wear and tear from public use, Smith said.

NJ Transit officials would make a decision about the pilot program over the next 18 months, he said.

The solar shelter helps NJ Transit meet goals set forth in Gov. Phil Murphy’s energy master plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“This is the latest initiative by NJ Transit as part of Governor Murphy’s commitment to a sustainable, energy efficient transportation system,” said State Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti.

Solar powered bus shelters are being tested or used by other transit agencies.

The MTA installed one in 2016 at a problematic bus stop in the Stuyvestant town section of Manhattan where poor lighting was blamed for the 2013 death of an 88-year-old woman who was crossing the street at Avenue C and 16th Street. The performance of the solar panels on that shelter will determine if the NYC DOT will deploy them elsewhere.

Pittsburgh’s Port Authority is including solar lit bus shelters among the last 43 shelters to be replaced this fall as part of a larger shelter replacement program.

In Canada, Transit Windsor is including solar powered shelters among the 203 new shelters being installed over 5 years, that started in 2017. Of those shelters, 27 have USB charging ports, similar to NJ Transit’s.

“I’m very happy NJ Transit was able to put this solar powered bus shelter in place, moving them a step closer to its goal of zero emissions by 2040,” said U.S. Rep. Donald Norcorss, D- NJ. “It’s going to be added benefits like phone charging, or even something as simple as shade or a roof in the rain, that makes public transit a more attractive transportation option for Cherry Hill.”

This shelter is being maintained by NJ Transit, which is a departure from the standard agreement where municipalities maintain the shelters that NJ Transit installs at no charge.

“The pilot shelter required a slightly different agreement with the host community as NJ Transit will maintain the shelter structure and the solar components,” Smith said. “It is envisioned that those items will be incorporated into the standard shelter agreement and the host communities would be responsible for maintaining all aspects of the shelter as they do now.”

©2021 Advance Local Media LLC. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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