It’s not something one really thinks about as they wait for the signal to change before they drive across tracks, or when the subway stops in a tunnel and then proceeds. Yet signals play an integral part in the safety and operation of subways and trains. There are over 2300 signals on the Red, Orange, Green and Blue lines of the MBTA.
Up until recently, signals used small incandescent light bulbs that lasted about six weeks; and replacing a signal bulb required two people because of safety requirements for working on a right of way. Needless to say, changing these lights is a recurring cost that mounts up quickly. Who better to solve the costly problem than James Christian, Supervisor of Signal Maintenance.
James knew the eventual solution would be to use LED bulbs, but there were two problems: those bulbs need a bayonet base that would be able to plug into existing units; and LED bulbs are expensive. But James also knew that LED bulbs lasted about six to eight years and used approximately 1/12th the amount of electricity of incandescent bulbs. So he worked with DDP LED Solutions to develop an LED bulb that cost half the amount of similar bulbs, and met MBTA specifications.
As of the end of 2012, James and his crew have installed about 1,500 bulbs at a cost of $138,000 for parts and labor. This might seem like a lot of money, but the return on investment was reached within 4-months, and the savings for the MBTA over a three-year period will be around $1.17 million! Through innovation and hard work, James Christian has saved the MBTA over $1 million, and has the T one step closer to achieving the secretary’s GreenDOT Implementation Plan – all this just by changing light bulbs! Kudo James, and thank you for your forward thinking!
Courtesy of Tim Lasker, Sustainability Manager, MBTA
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