Only 1% of new Muni Shelters Use Solar Power

By Matt Baume
|  Friday, Dec 17, 2010  |  Updated 6:45 AM PDT
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Only 1% of new Muni Shelters Use Solar Power

Josh Keppel

Santas huddle under a bus stop shelter.

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The city introduced its new Muni shelters with a whole lot of fanfare a year and a half ago. They were supposed to include a bunch of modern amenities, but since then, only one structure has included the much-talked-about solar panels.

The city just switched out its 100th new shelter, but only the first one they installed has solar panels. That one sits at Geary and Arguello in the Richmond -- not exactly the sunniest spot in town.

Muni actually doesn't exert total control over the shelters. They're provided by advertising giant Clear Channel, which gets to keep most of the ad revenue. That's expected to reach around $300 million over the next 20 years.

"San Francisco has a strong history of environmental sustainability," said Gavin Newsom. "The new Muni shelters reflect those values." Some more than others, apparently.

In addition to the rare solar panels, the structures also include recycled steel and low-energy lighting.

Other problems have dogged the new shelters. The NextBus signs have been known to fail, particularly at one problematic stop at Market and New Montgomery.

When the rainy season started, patrons discovered that they weren't much protection from dampness. The new design removes a back panel to permit handicapped access, but that means that water can get in, too. At some stops, panel has even been removed from shelters that directly abut chain-link fences, so handicapped users can't take advantage of the access even as rain streams in.

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