‘Sometimes drivers don’t see us’: Bus stops add solar lights to make riders more visible

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Mountain Metro Transit is installing solar lights to about 60 bus stops around Colorado Springs so passengers feel safer while waiting for the bus and to make sure drivers don’t miss them in the dark.

“I think that’s a good thing,” said Melissa Chitty, who said she rides the bus almost every day. “I think with the light, solar light, or any kind of light for that matter, will make it a lot safer. That way we’ll be visible, not only for the bus driver but visible for other people to see us.”

Chitty said she’s often waiting at the bus stop in the dark and has had drivers pass her before because they couldn’t see her waiting.

“I wave my cell phone with the light so they can know I’m there,” she said.

Examples like that are one of the reasons MMT has started installing the solar lights.

“We got a lot of good feedback from our bus drivers especially because at night, when they’re driving and the customer is standing there, they can’t see them,” said Roger Austin, a facilities supervisor for MMT. “So sometimes they would actually pass them up, and that’s really bad. So the lights will help a lot.”

He said crews have been installing the lights since the beginning of the year. They ordered about 60 lights and plan to finish installing them within the next few weeks. If bus drivers and riders suggest other bus stops that need to be better lit, Austin said they’ll order more lights.

“They’re designed through solar. They will be on as soon as it becomes dark; constantly throughout the night,” Austin said. “Then, if a person comes up, there’s a motion sensor, which will make it brighter.”

Since the lights depend on the sun, Austin said not every bus stop will be a good fit.

“There are some that the solar light won’t work well because if it’s under trees or too close to trees, well that’s going to prohibit the solar from working,” he said. “So we will make an assessment and a judgment and then if we think it’s warranted, we’ll go ahead and do it for them.”

People who think a bus stop needs more light can call 719-385-RIDE. Austin said crews will evaluate each suggestion to see if a solar light would help.

“We’ve gotten some where someone said, ‘There’s not enough light there.’ Then we go out and look, and it’s like, ‘Well, that’s because the street light is out,’” he said. “So then it’s, of course, us working with the other city departments to get that corrected.”

Austin said each light costs about $125 and it comes out of MMT’s operating budget.

“They’re LED, so they’ll last quite a long time,” he said. “So a small financial investment for a great benefit for our riders.”

Austin said the city’s bus shelters have solar lights on them, as well.