People will have to endure sun and rain this summer while waiting for the bus in Atlantic City because the resort will be without bus shelters until after Labor Day, officials said Monday.
Clear Channel Communications owned the shelters previously standing in the city, but removed them recently because they didn’t generate as much advertising revenue as expected, said Keith Mills, Atlantic City’s director of planning and development.
“Advertisers in Atlantic City have preferred other options. Clear Channel is committed to Atlantic City with the ... digital displays along the Boardwalk and winning the new contract for Atlantic City International Airport,” said Jim Cullinan, vice president of communications for the company, in an email.
The New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority’s board is expected to vote today on awarding a $600,000 contract to Clifton, Passaic County-based Handi-Hut for installing 65 shelters at bus and jitney stops citywide that officials say are safer, stronger and easier to maintain than the 35 formerly featured in the resort.
Clear Channel installed the structures for free in 1995 through an agreement with the Atlantic City Special Improvement District — now the Special Improvement Division of the CRDA — that let the company advertise on them. That contract expired April 30 and within a couple weeks, the company started tearing down shelters — another term of the agreement, Cullinan said.
Installation of the new bus shelters is planned to start mid-September in the Atlantic City Tourism District and take about six weeks, with the last shelters going up outside the district by November, said CRDA spokeswoman Kim Butler.
But in the meantime, bus patrons must wait without protection from the elements.
Barry Manns complained about the prospect of waiting all summer without shade from the sun as he waited at Chelsea and Atlantic avenues for the bus to take him to his home in the West Atlantic City section of Egg Harbor Township after a shopping trip.
“What is the logic for inconveniencing patrons by making them stand in this blazing sun?” said Manns, a retired carpenter. “I’m 69 years of age, I’ve survived two strokes, and I don’t need this sun beating down on me. Neither do young mothers who have young babies. … It’s absolutely offensive that people are disregarded.”
Mills, who apologized for the delay, said he and other public officials learned last December that Clear Channel would not renew its contract. They decided during the next few months to replace the existing structures because their 15-year manufacturer’s warranty had expired — and that created liability risks, he said.
Although the same size as the old structures, the new ones are built to withstand winds as fast as 120 mph compared with barely 70 mph before. They will also have glass that, at three-eighths of an inch, is 50 percent thicker — a change officials hope will reduce damage from vandalism. They will be coated with ionized aluminum, which will prevent chipping and reduce maintenance needed to maintain their appearance, Butler said.
Like the old shelters, those forthcoming have slots for advertising. SID plans to use them for public service and other community messages — but that could change, Butler said.
New Jersey Transit operates the public bus lines that run along Atlantic Avenue and other city streets where the shelters will go. Towns sometimes apply to the agency to install shelters. The arrangement costs the municipality nothing, but gives ownership of the structures to NJ Transit, spokeswoman Nancy Snyder said Monday.
Public officials from SID, CRDA and Atlantic City did not apply for NJ Transit’s program, Snyder said.
They considered that option 17 years ago, but instead chose Clear Channel because they felt it would be faster, Mills said.
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