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May 19, 2023  |   Posted In Uncategorized

CCRTA Adds 300 new Tolar Bus Shelters

(click here to see article published in APTA’s Passenger Transport, 5/19/2023)

As CCRTA prepares for another year of heat advisories passengers will be protected by 300 new Tolar-built bus shelters

Spring is making its way into Corpus Christi, but record-setting temperatures arrived early, with February highs reaching the mid-nineties and heat advisories expected throughout the year. In the summer of 2022, the city opened cooling centers offering residents relief from the heat, with the Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority (CCRTA) providing fare-free transportation to the centers for anyone hoping to escape temperatures over 110 degrees. But before the CCRTA riders could reach the cooling centers, they had to wait at a bus stop where they were potentially exposed to the extreme temperatures.

To assist in the organization’s safety efforts, the CCRTA developed a Shelter Expansion Program, which has added 40 new Tolar bus shelters each month since September of 2022. The new bus shelters, manufactured and installed by California based Tolar Manufacturing Company, will soon total 300, with 75 more to be installed by 2025. For sites that cannot support a bus shelter, other amenities including seating, lighting, and trash receptacles will be installed. When the project is complete, Tolar, the company responsible for producing over 35% of domestic transit shelters in North America, will have helped cover nearly half of all the CCRTA bus stops with shelters, providing riders with necessary shade as summer heatwaves loom.

The project will bring CCRTA’s total number of bus shelters to 601 and is a display of the Authority’s continued commitment to safety, security, and accessibility. “CCRTA’s Board of Directors and Executive Leadership always have the customer’s wellness in mind. Our Shelter Expansion Program provides a layer of safety from Corpus Christi’s inclement weather. The solar lighting at each Tolar Shelter also provides additional security for those using our system at night,” stated Miguel E. Rendón, CCRTA’s Acting Chief Executive Officer, “Our shelters keep our riders safe and secure, and ensure that they always have access to transportation.”

This marks the 6th awarded project from CCRTA to Tolar Manufacturing. Since 2006, Tolar has supplied hundreds of shelters across Corpus Christi. But Tolar has bus shelters in communities of all sizes throughout Texas from Laredo to Austin and Dallas.

Since 2016, 300 Tolar shelters have been installed throughout Austin, and in 2022, Tolar entered a contract with the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Agency (CapMetro) to provide up to 550 new bus shelters over 5 years, which would bring the total number of Tolar bus shelters in the city to 850. In Dallas, more than 1,500 Tolar bus shelters have been installed for Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) since 2008.

As rising temperatures bring the increased threat of heat waves across the U.S. sunbelt, shade and shelter are needed in places where the weather may not have been as dangerous in previous seasonal years. The summer of 2022 was the fourth hottest summer on record for the Dallas-Fort Worth area, with temperatures reaching 109 degrees. Austin experienced nine consecutive days with temperatures in the triple digits. In Corpus Christi, temperatures in July of 2022 reached up to 115 degrees, prompting the need, as mentioned, for cooling centers and fare-free transportation.

While shade does not reduce temperature, bus shelters provide necessary relief from sun exposure and radiation. Exposure to the sun can raise surface temperatures up to 15 degrees Fahrenheit compared with shaded surfaces. The protection from the sun offered by shade can be the difference between life and death in the face of a Texas heatwave.

Bus shelters are not limited to providing solely shade. In Baltimore, Tolar was contracted to build nine bus shelters for Tradepoint Atlantic for their 3,300 acre multi-modal site to support the movement of thousands of employees, with a cold weather protecting design that incorporates double windscreen walls made of protective polycarbonate and overhead heaters with controls. These amenities are especially important in a city that averages 20 inches of snow annually and has temperatures that regularly dip below 20 degrees in the winter.

Whether dealing with extreme heat or extreme cold, more agencies are thinking about the important role bus stops hold in the lives of their riders and providing more amenities like Tolar shelters. Agencies, like CCRTA, are prioritizing the safety, security, and accessibility for their riders to improve the overall rider experience, and for good reason. A 2015 study by the University of Minnesota: Nexus Research Group showed that bus stop amenities such as shelters and benches reduced perceived waiting time by up to half, quantifying the effect of comfort on experience. “Our goal is to provide a quality shelter that creates a positive experience under any conditions,” said Gary Tolar, President of Tolar Manufacturing Company, “That could mean shelter from temperatures in the 120s, or two feet of snowfall. Even placing a well-lit comfortable bench outside of a community center frequented by seniors can and should take priority regardless of the number of boardings.”

In Corpus Christi, CCRTA sees an average of 10,000 riders a day, for more than 2.8 million riders annually. Soon, with help from Tolar, 44% of the bus stops in Corpus Christi will provide these riders with shade during another summer of record-breaking temperatures, demonstrating the continued commitment of Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority to providing their riders with a safe, secure, and accessible experience and the ability for Tolar Manufacturing to provide quality transit shelters anywhere from Corpus Christi to Baltimore.

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