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City's First Solar-Powered Bus Shelter Breaks Months After Installation

By Noah Hurowitz | January 3, 2017 3:33pm

STUYVESANT TOWN — The city's first solar-powered bus-stop lighting system near Stuyvesant Town has gone dark less than a year after installation, frustrating neighbors who say the area is now hazardous to pedestrians and riders.

The bus shelter at East 16th Street and Avenue C — which had been left in the dark for more than seven years before scoring the city’s first solar lighting as part of a pilot program in March — was plunged back into darkness after its lights stopped working some time in the past month, locals said.

Lawrence Scheyer, a Stuy Town resident and Community Board 6 member who had campaigned for years to get lights at the bus stop, said he's frustrated the city's fix fell apart so quickly.

“I was happy to see a creative solution, but disappointed that it only lasted a few months until the lights failed,” he said.

The lighting system had been installed in mid-March at the southbound M9 bus stop by JCDecaux, an outdoor-advertising company contracted by the city to install the solar-powered lights, which were the first in a planned pilot program, a DOT spokeswoman told DNAinfo New York at the time.

Representatives of JCDecaux did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to Gloria Chin, a spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation, the agency is aware of the issue and has notified JCDecaux of the problem.

Before last March, shelter had languished in the dark since 2009, when Con Edison — which operates a facility across the street — disconnected the stop's normal electrical lighting from its power source, said Scheyer.

Sources said at the time that the JCDecaux solar program for overhead bus shelter lighting was only a test, and that if it succeeded, it would expand to other locations.

The DOT did not say at the time how long the testing period was supposed to last, or whether there have been any more solar-powered bus shelter lights installed as part of the pilot program in the time since the Avenue C shelter was put in place.

Scheyer said the area’s relative lack of lighting and the use of Avenue C by Con Ed trucks makes it a danger to anyone on their way to wait for a bus — including his wife, who was almost run over by trucks there.

A Con Ed truck struck and killed 88-year-old Stella Huang as she crossed the street at that same intersection on Nov. 20, 2013.

“The drivers apparently just didn't see her,” Scheyer said.

Scheyer said he just hopes bus riders using the stop won’t have to endure another another seven years of darkness.

“I’d like to see it fixed as soon as possible, because visibility is a real issue there,” he said. “Last time, there was excuse after excuse, and it seemed as if it wasn’t a real priority.”