Lighting at Bus Stops

The new breed of Vancouver shelter at night. These shelters are very brightly lit with both the advertisement and the stop location lit up. Christopher MacKechnie

Lighting at Bus Stops: Adequate Illumination Is Key

Improving lighting at bus stops is one of the top five ways to improve transit safety and security . Improved lighting improves safety and security in two major ways: first, it helps to deter crime by enabling witnesses to better see crimes taking place; second, particularly in exurban and rural areas, it lessens the chance of automobile - pedestrian collisions.

  Perhaps most importantly, adequate lighting is necessary to avoid bus pass-ups at night - an all too common problem. Although I know of no transit agency that currently does this, an agency should consider not serving bus stops at night with inadequate lighting and no reasonable possibility of improving lighting.

When we consider how to improve lighting at stops, we have to answer two questions: first, we have to identify the best stops to improve (because funding is limited, we will not have enough money to improve all stops); and second, we have to decide what kind of lighting to put at stops.

Identify Stops for Improved Lighting

The main criterion for identifying candidate bus stops for improved lighting is how many boardings the stop has at night (between 5 PM and 7 AM to take into account the short days of winter), as it makes no sense to add lighting at stops which nobody uses (of course, you have to take into consideration the fact that nobody may use the stop at night because it has no lighting).

If a stop has an abnormal ridership decline compared with other stops during the late night hours then it's darkness may be factor in explaining low usage in the darkness. In addition, all stops that are relief points , are transfer points, or are time points also need improved lighting either because of the increased chance that passengers will be waiting at the stop or because operator safety is not served well by a bus dwelling at a dark location.

Types of Lighting Improvements

Shelter Lighting

If a shelter is at a bus stop, then it is imperative that it have lighting to avoid a dark enclosure that could attract loiterers, drug dealers, or prostitutes. Most shelter lighting is connected to the electrical grid, usually the same grid that powers street lighting, but if connection to the electrical grid is not possible due either to location or utility refusal to allow the usage of the street lighting circuit due to differential pricing tiers (street lighting is usually cheaper than regular lighting), then solar-powered lighting can be installed if the top of the shelter receives enough daily light. Most solar-powered lighting is provided by LEDs.

Stop Lighting

Bus stops can also have lights. These lights often take the form of little "hats" that are placed on top of the bus stop sign and upon activation by a button shine LED bulbs. Sometimes, instead of solid downward illumination a flashing light on top of the sign is activated. While this flashing lights alerts the driver that a passenger is waiting at the stop, it does not provide as much lighting for those waiting. Of course, stops need to be on their own pole to qualify for this improvement.

Street and Other Third-Party Lighting

In some cases it may also be possible to improve lighting to a stop by either adding a new street light at the stop or by repositioning an existing street light to provide more direct illumination of a stop location. Pedestrian-scale lighting is especially effective at illuminating stops. Residences and businesses located near dark bus stops may also be amenable to improving stop lighting by adding lighting to their homes or retail establishments. Finally, in some cases the landscape may be able to have lighting added - a spotlight highlighting an attractive tree or a lighted fountain can be an attractive way to provide adequate illumination in a tasteful manner.

Transit agencies have long known that effective lighting makes a difference at light rail and subway stations.

  The Washington Metro is exemplary in this regard, but the Los Angeles Metro also has great station illumination.  Now it is time for them to devote the same attention to bus stops.

Lighting is one way that we can improve safety at bus stops.  Types of lighting could be reflected in a bus stop numbering classification.

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Your Citation
MacKechnie, Christopher. "Lighting at Bus Stops." ThoughtCo, Jan. 10, 2016, MacKechnie, Christopher. (2016, January 10). Lighting at Bus Stops. Retrieved from MacKechnie, Christopher. "Lighting at Bus Stops." ThoughtCo. (accessed November 21, 2017).