Solar Bus Power for Oak Bay Village

Friday, December 20, 2002

One of 10 new solar-powered transit stops to be installed in the Greater Victoria area was unveiled in the Oak Bay Village on Thursday.

Victoria will be the first city in Canada to install the locally developed illuminated "i-STOPs" on a trial basis which are expected to be industry standard across North America within a few years.

The stops cost $1,500 each and have backlit schedule information, a safety light and a flashing beacon, with a night visibility range of 1.6 kilometres, to alert drivers that there is somebody at the stop. The stop uses high-intensity LEDs for all of its lighting features and is rugged and vandal resistant.

The stop has a self-charging solar battery and doesn't need an external source of power which makes them cheap and efficient for cities and municipalities to install.

Carmanah CEO Art Aylesworth said the company is working with transit companies and local governments in California and in London to test the new stops.

"Every city these days is looking for a way to get more people out of their cars and onto its buses," he said.

The stops are also a step toward smart sustainable, stops that are connected to a satellite network and will give you real time information telling you when your bus is coming.

"Imagine if you knew your bus was coming in 10 minutes and you knew that you could cross the street and grab your coffee before it came," said Aylesworth.

"That's a really slick feature."

Once the stops are installed, it would be an easy upgrade to add the smart, remotely controlled network features, he said.

Transit spokesperson Chris Foord said the solar powered stops could replace traditional stops across the region within three years.

"It's certainly the direction we'd like to go in," he said. "We're always looking to enhance the transit experience."

The company has already sent over 100 i-STOPs to other North American cities, and they have 25 in London, but they wanted to run one of the first field tests in Victoria.

"Once we had the support of B.C. Transit we decided to make a bit of a splash in our home town," he said.

If the trials go well, Aylesworth expects the stops to be installed in hundreds of communities in North America within three years. He also has the support of the federal government.

"These stops make tremendous sense from a Kyoto perspective," said Victoria MP David Anderson. "And for a Victoria company to be at the forefront is tremendous."

Anderson was at the unveiling to highlight the $500,000 in federal funds recently awarded to Carmanah for research and development.

The solar-powered light technology was originally developed to power marine navigation lights used by the Canadian and U.S. coast guards. Solar stops need only 1.5 hours of sunlight to run for 150 hours.

Greater Victoria locations for the new stops are: Trans Canada Highway and Tillicum; Trans Canada Highway and Admirals/McKenzie; Pat Bay Highway and Sayward; Elk Lake and Royal Oak at terminus; Richmond and Fort; Panorama Leisure Centre; Old Island Highway at Ocean Blvd.; Oak Bay Village in front of Pharmasave; Cook and Oscar; Blanshard and Topaz.