The MTA’s newest bright idea calls for harnessing the sun to make riding on the F and G trains a bit smoother for straphangers.
Workers installed solar panels designed to fuel track lubricators along the elevated section of the Culver Viaduct near the still-under-construction Smith–Ninth Street — letting the agency grease the rails using a renewable energy source.
The sun-charged lubricators are an environmentally friendly way to reduce wear-and-tear on tracks and train wheels before curves between the Carroll Street station and the Fourth–Avenue Ninth Street station, according to Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Charles Seaton.
The permanent solar fixtures are a bright spot in the MTA’s much-delayed, over-budget, Culver Viaduct rehabilitation project — which calls for $257-million renovation of the elevated tracks between Carroll Street and Fourth Avenue–Ninth Street.
Repairs on the run-down Smith-Ninth Street station will not be finished until September at the earliest — six months after the MTA said the transportation hub would be operational again and 15 months since it closed for refurbishing.
And when the project wraps up, a beloved five-stop extension of the G train that brings the Brooklyn Local to Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, and Kensington is slated to reach its last stop — despite outcry from straphangers across the borough.
Delays and possible G train cuts notwithstanding, transit advocates are happy to hear about the MTA’s energy-efficient effort.
“Any initiative to reduce their carbon footprint is a step in the right direction,” said Cate Contino, a spokeswoman with Straphangers Campaign. “I don’t see how the MTA reducing their draw on fossil fuels could be a bad thing.”
Ya-Ting Liu, a spokeswoman for Transportation Alternatives, is surprised the agency hasn’t been shouting about its solar-powered lubricators from the highest point on the Culver Viaduct.
“It’s a good thing for one of the largest transit agencies in the country to be looking into alternative energy sources to keep its own network running,” she said. “As a transit advocate, I wish they were publicizing it more.”
This isn’t the first time the agency has turned to the sun — the has installed several solar power units citywide, including a giant photovoltaic canopy over the Coney Island–Stillwell Avenue stop that generates power.