The city tried to address the gap with a 2010 effort that Miskell describes as disappointing. In that iteration, officials rolled out 87 real-time LED information signs, covering a small fraction of the total 3,500 bus stops. The numbers never worked out.
“Because of the power needs, the cost of the installation dwarfed the cost of the signs,” Miskell said. “These were the red LED signs that have been around in transit forever and they are power hungry. We literally had to go pull power from PG&E [the local utility] and stick a meter on them. To do that at 150 or 200 locations would have cost millions of dollars, and we would have had no flexibility. Once they are in place, you cannot move them.”
The city’s new solution comes in the form of a CHK American digital bus stop, a solar-powered kiosk with a 10-inch information display that costs about $3,500 to buy and install. The city plans to install about 120 by the end of the year.
“So we knew that whatever we did next, we wanted it to be solar. We wanted to be able to install it in hours, not in days, and not require permits and have to work with the power company,” Miskell said.