Making a Safe and Comfortable Stop

June 4, 2019
A part of making bus shelters, stations and stops more attractive to users is providing a safe and clean environment.

Shelters and stations are an essential part of an agency’s operation. Providing amenities and additional technology at bus stops to make users feel more comfortable can increase ridership.

Utilizing remote technology

With solar energy being an increasingly popular option for stops, OutdoorLink, Inc. works to not only manage them through its SmartLink system, but manage them in a fashion that is easier for agencies.

“[SmartLink] gives the operator the opportunity to remotely control the lighting on the billboard to check in and see if it is working, to get alerts and improves the advertisers to say the lights are working how they are supposed to. It also allows you to reset schedules all through a web-based and app-based program,” said Doug Pew, vice president transit products, OutdoorLink, Inc. “It’s really revolutionized the outdoor advertising industry, including the digital side of that, where we are built into electronic digital displays [across the US]."

SmartLink is now being utilized in transit operations. The company’s software offers remote monitoring of displays, which no longer requires that transit maintenance departments be on site to check a displays performance. Pew explained that SmartLink offers both AC and solar access for its shelters, but that solar is becoming more prominent. Pew himself was a part of increasing SmartLink’s solar activity.

“In the shelter world, one of the things that I was really part of was bringing solar lighting to shelters. [Now you can have] the ability to have control and monitor when your lights are working, if they’re working, if your battery is charged, if your solar panel is providing solar as it’s supposed to. You can register if it is your lights, your signs or your USB charging port – which is a newer thing that has been implemented in shelters as well. We’re able to monitor all of that and tell the agency if they need service,” explained Pew. “Historically, in the shelter side of things and the shelter industry, maintenance departments have to go out and manually check a lighting package to see if it’s working or they wait for a call from a user or rider to hear if the light is working or not. We’re giving agencies the ability to make it much more secure and offer much more protection.”

Agencies are given the benefit on ensuring both public security as well as remote control.

“The ability to control remotely and to know when your lights are working or if there is a problem and your power is out, it’s really [offered] a lot of benefits to the maintenance side of the industry to know when you have a problem and when you need to service it,” said Pew.

Pew explained that several different agencies located in the U.S. in the west, as well as the south are turning to solar energy. Pew added that SmartLink’s system offers the choice to be implemented in a current system. The system also offers additional resources that are unique to the company.

“Our device is a controller, so it can work with any existing system that is in the field today. We made it to retrofit and then we’re also working with OEM’s to work with them to put it in to their solar lighting packages for the agencies,” said Pew. “There really is nothing else like it where you can look at your cell phone and tell that your lights are working or that you need to change the times on these lights simply through an app or from your desktop. Since it is all through cell technology, it is up to date to real time, there is no need to adjust for daylight savings [time], which, for the most part, every other controller in the market has to do, you have to go out there and have someone change times to be up to date.”

Pew explained that while it is a newer system, the company has several agencies that have started implementing it into their operations.

“It’s really revolutionary for them to see that the moment we set this up they can go to their cell phone and see ‘wow, my lights are working and how many watts it’s putting out right now. Or maybe I can see that one light is out on a system.’ It just gives information that is so useful for them,” said Pew.

SmartLink offers agencies the ability to access each stop through both a mobile app, as well as online. They are able to see GPS location as to which station is being affected. SmartLink also provides daily reports, allowing agencies to monitor how displays are functioning.

“We talk about safety and shelter and a lot of other things, from a user standpoint of the street furniture of the shelter, they’re going to have more reliability and more lighting, which is a good thing for security,” said Pew. “For the agency to have assurance knowing when their equipment is working and when it is not, when they have an issue is going to help them avoid calls from people, that’s one of the things that makes this [technology] unique.”

Presenting a clean shelter

Graffiti Shield, Inc. offers agencies the option of putting the company’s clear coating on any advertising at bus stops or shelters. The product that Graffiti Shield offers is easily removable; an agency is able to remove it without damaging the display. Graffiti Shield also offers customization.

Mike Schuch, president of Graffiti Shield, Inc. said, “We cut everything on a laser machine or flatbed cutting machine so that when the clients actually get our protective coating, they can just clean the window, peel the protector off the window like a giant decal and just apply it. We take a lot of the headache out of the process.”

Graffiti Shield also offers two additional products for use on non-glass surfaces.

“We offer a custom product that is usually color matched to metal surfaces – whether it’s stainless steel or harder coated – we, as well, do printing and marketing on both of our materials. It will elevate [rider's] experience by giving the agency or the city the ability to give the community a clean environment, a graffiti free environment while they’re waiting for the bus. If the bus stop is riddled with vulgar etchings it gives customers a negative connotation and maybe a thought of being unsafe in that area,” said Schuch.

Schuch noted the product offers agencies an easy option for maintenance.

“Our whole premise is that it’s a sacrificial and easy product that can be removed so you always have a clean environment,” said Schuch. “Agencies can simply peel off [a cover] and install a new one in minutes. Previously, they would have to take off the glass and disassemble and resemble, which would take hours.”