The Capital Area Transit System is preparing to build 20 new solar-powered, covered bus shelters at stops along Florida Boulevard, Scenic Highway and Harding Boulevard.
CATS has inched along on a promise to build about 100 lit shelters at bus stops since a dedicated property tax was passed in 2012. There are 40 completed and another 40 that CATS hasn’t yet begun to procure.
Funds for the 20 shelters were approved Tuesday evening by the CATS board. The purchase was made possible by a federal grant of $905,000.
Riders have long complained that long waits for buses are exacerbated by a lack of benches or a covered area to protect them from rain or to provide shade during the hot summer months.
The latest round will bring the total of new bus shelters built to 60. But they might not be constructed and installed until March.
The purchase of the shelters and solar lights will cost $182,600. CATS will pay 20 percent of that cost from its own funds, with the federal grant covering the other 80 percent.
The remaining grant dollars will be used to purchase the 40 other shelters over the next six to nine months, CATS officials said. Those shelters also will be placed along the same state highways.
The lag on new bus shelters is one of a few major issues CATS has failed to deliver on in a timely fashion, despite promising voters in 2012 delivery of the benches by March 2014.
Critics also have noted CATS has yet to include signage at stops letting riders know schedules or routes.
CATS CEO Bob Mirabito has said the wait for the last 60 benches has hinged on holdups by the state Department of Transportation and Development, which has authority over the state roads and was recently in control of the federal grant.
CATS over the past several months has refurbished and rebuilt 89 old bus shelters that were in need of repair.