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Houston METRO experiments with solar-powered fans at bus stops

If deemed proficient, the initiative could provide breeze to those waiting for rides in 100-plus temperatures.

The Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority is trial-testing 50 solar-powered fans installed at bus stops in the city. Currently, METRO has nearly 9,000 operational stops, with some featuring metal shelters and benches, and others left uncovered entirely, with just a sign to designate where the stop is. But changes are in the works for the small area where thousands of Houstonians await their ride to take them to their destination. 


According to Houston Chronicle reporter Dug Begley, the solar-powered fans were suggested by Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D- Houston) back in 2019 when she first entered Congress. "It's something I have thought about for a long time," Fletcher told Begley. "It’s hot in this town… why can’t there be a fan?" 

Begley added that METRO officials are currently experimenting with prototypes and working with a vendor to build bus stop shelters with solar panels to power the fans. Additionally, hidden batteries in the shelter power up other amenities like lighting for nighttime riders, warning lights to notify bus drivers that riders are waiting, and possibly screens to show bus arrival times.

With the right vendor, METRO could be the first transit agency to offer solar-powered fans to riders. At the same time, officials said the prototypes are meant to attempt to create a breeze. “The idea is to create airflow,” Miguel Zavala, director of public facilities for Metro, told Begley. “We are not cooling the air.”

As triple-digit temperatures in the area continue to be the rule and not the exception, many Houston residents are happy with any relief from the heat. "To make people wait in the sun, depending on the person, can be deadly,” Houston resident John Dixon told Begley. 

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