SFMTA Installs 100th New Transit Shelter

Photos: Matthew Roth
Photos: Matthew Roth

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) announced today that it has installed the 100th new transit shelter, representing a new aesthetic for one of the more iconic pieces of street furniture in the city.

The shelters began on a trial basis in May 2009 when Mayor Gavin Newsom showcased a solar-powered shelter on Geary and Arguello Boulevards in the Richmond. The shelters feature a new wave pattern on the roof meant to reflect both the hills of the city and the Golden Gate Bridge, according to designer Olle Lundberg of Lundberg Design.

The installations follow a two-year process to develop, design and fabricate the new shelters, which were created with the SFMTA’s transit shelter advertising and maintenance contractor, Clear Channel Outdoor.

The contract with Clear Channel requires the company to provide the new shelters and replace the existing 1,100 shelters no later than the end of 2013, in exchange for the majority of advertising rights. The SFMTA will get some of the revenue, which the agency expects to top $300 million over the 20-year term of the contract.

“San Francisco has a strong history of environmental sustainability and we pride ourselves on being a city of inclusion,” Mayor Gavin Newsom said in a statement. “The new Muni shelters reflect those values and will make getting around this beautiful city easier and greener.”

The roof of the solar-enabled shelter at Arguello and Geary
The roof of the solar-enabled shelter at Arguello and Geary

The original shelter pioneered a polycarbonate roof structure designed by 3form Materials Solutions, with photovoltaic laminates by Konarka Power Plastic.  According to the SFMTA, the new shelters feature steel with high-recycled content as well as energy-efficient light-emitting diodes. For comparison, the florescent lights in the current shelters use 336 watts, while the new LED panels use only 74.4 watts. Though none of the other 99 shelters has been outfitted with the solar laminate, SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose said the agency was working with Pacific Gas and Electric to install solar capability on shelters where appropriate.

Rose said the installation has been prioritized in areas of where Muni has heavy passenger traffic, particularly downtown. The shelters also provide better information for the riding public, with two maps and a large space for transit information. As NextMuni signs become available, each shelter that has a usable power source will have both the NextMuni display as well as the accompanying Push-to-Talk system to read the NextMuni information for those who are visually impaired.

“Over the past several months, it’s been exciting to see more and more of these smart new shelters in place,” said SFMTA CEO Nat Ford. “These are shelters that provide more information for our customers and better accessibility. The use of environmentally sustainable features such as photovoltaics and LEDs, where feasible, ensure that their contribution goes beyond assisting our customers to benefiting the entire City.”

  • “Though none of the other 99 shelters has been outfitted with the solar laminate…”

    Thank you for printing this! It’s been driving me nuts every time the Comical or another outlet wrote that some of these shelters would have solar panels, as none of them actually do.

    IIRC, the promises of solar panels and bike sharing were among the criteria for choosing Clear Channel and this design… Public/private partnerships. Gotta love ’em

  • Mike

    One could argue that the new LED lighting is going to use more energy than the old florescent lamps. How is this possible? In the past when the florescent lamps burned out they would hardly ever be replaced. The new LED lights last 10x as long (using more energy over the life of the shelter!).

    And if anyone cares, citywide these new LED lights will use 678 amps compared to former 3080 amps. That’s about as much power as required for 3-4 houses.

    If they really want energy efficiency try allowing bikes on MUNI trains, bus stop consolidation, enforcing transit only lanes etc etc…

  • These shelters are a wonderful design by local firm Lundberg Architects. It’s great that the SFMTA has tapped some of the fantastic pool of local design talent. Lundberg also fabricate many of their designs in their own metal shop which gives their work a pragmatic aesthetic that I very much like.

  • Jerold

    9th Avenue and Judah just got two installed where the 6, 43, 44, 66 stop at last week. I wonder if those were 99th and 100th. They don’t have NextMuni yet :-(.

  • Alan

    Looks like a sinc function (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinc_function) which could reflect San Francisco makin’ bank in the tech industry, too, since you can use sinc to do some sweet signals & systems.

  • Bob Davis

    Regarding energy used by the lights–there was also mention of solar power. If the shelters are powered by solar cells and batteries, the only outside energy would be the power used at the solar cell and battery manufacturing plants.

  • disco burritos

    @Mike – Are you suggesting that the bus shelters should be unlighted?

  • George

    These shelters have always been a farce.

    Uncomfortable to sit on, so the homeless will not use them.

    Obnoxious advertising.

    No public advertising!

  • Bob Davis

    No public advertising? Without advertising support, we probably wouldn’t see any bus shelters. Just try to get taxpayers (most of whom drive cars) to approve of spending their money for such amenities. (I realize that in the “big picture”, advertising dollars come from our purchases of products, but we have the option of not buying the clothes or going to the movies that sponsor our neighborhood bus stop). I don’t mind plain posters and billboards; what does bug me are the new “giant video” ads. They aren’t that much of a nuisance for transit riders, but they can be (and are probably intended to be) distracting to drivers.

  • BobG

    These shelters are lame. With openings all along the top and sides they provide almost no protection from the rain. At least the older ones didn’t have the opening between the roof and the top of the vertical panels.

  • ⁂ 6 years later, here’s an update. Konarka is now out of business. The Geary/Arguello shelter is still the only one with solar cells. They do not power the NextMuni display, but they do light up the ads.


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