14/01/09 The sun is smiling on county’s bus users

The sun is smiling on county’s bus users

INNOVATIVE solar panelled bus stops will soon light up the night sky on a Lincolnshire route.

The new sun-powered signs are part of a £300,000 redevelopment of bus facilities which includes illuminating seven stops on the eight miles between Lincoln and Fiskerton.

Passengers in rural areas have called for the county council to improve lighting and principal transport officer Mark Lambert said it had listened to the requests.

“We’re always looking for innovative measures to improve safety and awareness,” he said. “We have recently received requests from passengers for improved lighting at bus stops, particularly in rural areas.”

The LED lighting will be tested along the 15A bus route for 12 months and Mr Lambert said any decision to develop the scheme further would be taken after the trial.

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“By using energy from a sustainable source the lights keep pollution to a minimum and avoid wasted energy,” he said.

Money for the project was awarded to the council by the Department of Transport and will also see access to buses improved and new timetable boards.

Executive member for highways Councillor William Webb said the changes could persuade more people to use the public service.

“These improvements will increase accessibility to the bus service making it a more attractive option to travellers,” he said. “Encouraging residents on to buses could help them cut their transportation costs, which is particularly important in these difficult financial times.

“The new lighting system is also environmentally-friendly, which will help make the service more sustainable.”

The solar-powered units are currently used around the UK in Edinburgh, Buckinghamshire and Kent.

And Met Office spokesman John Hammond said Lincolnshire’s levels of sunshine exposure were high in comparison to other areas.

“Lincolnshire gets an average of 48 hours of sunshine in December and that is one of the highest figures for the country,” he said. “In June the county doesn’t fair too badly with an average of 180 hours of sunshine. The highest for that month is Suffolk which gets more than 200 hours.

“Lincolnshire is up there in terms of the hours of sunshine it gets and is similar to places including Kent, Buckinghamshire and Devon.”

Taxpayers’ Alliance campaign manager Susie Squire said: “If the money is used to improve public services then we applaud that. But every penny is precious so any improvements need to be looked at carefully and it is important there is value for money.”