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Solar bus shelters for San Francisco

Mayor hopes to have 1,100 energy-efficient bus shelters in place by the end of 2013.

Candace Lombardi
In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.
Candace Lombardi
2 min read
Mayor Gavin Newsom unveiling San Francisco's new bus shelters. Office of the Mayor of San Francisco

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) have unveiled new energy-efficient bus shelters for the city.

The first of these bus shelters has been put up on the corner of Geary Boulevard and Arguello Boulevard with plans for four more to be rolled out in the coming weeks. The city plans to evaluate the five bus shelters throughout the summer to see what, if any, changes need to be made to the existing design.

Following the evaluation, SFMTA plans to replace a minimum of 1,100 existing bus shelters throughout San Francisco beginning this year, with plans to have them all in place by 2013.

The pilot bus shelters, which were designed by Lundberg Design, incorporate a bright red plastic wavy roof containing photovoltaic panels, two maps, LED lighting, Wi-Fi, space for two advertisements, and a NextMuni display that informs users of impending arrivals.

Many will power lights and info systems via organic dye-based photovoltaic solar film that's free of heavy metals and be encapsulated in bright red plastic made of 40 percent recycled content. The bus shelter structure itself is made from steel consisting of 60-70 percent recycled material.

The LED lights being used in the new bus shelters use about 74.4 watts, making them four and half times more efficient that than fluorescent lighting in the old shelters, which uses about 336 watts, according to the Mayor's office.

The new shelters will be installed and maintained by billboard advertising giant Clear Channel Outdoor.

While the San Francisco bus shelters are progress in terms of energy efficiency, they're arguably not as high-tech as the EyeStop bus shelters recently unveiled in Florence, Italy.

The EyeStop bus shelters designed by Carlo Ratti include touch-screen computers offering real-time mapping of buses, mobile alerts for bus schedule changes, Web access, and tall beacons that brighten as buses near to alert approaching pedestrians in the distance. All the Florence, Italy, bus shelter computers can also be accessed in several languages to accommodate tourists.