While local electric companies are working to set up lights at school bus stops, some students are still waiting during pitch black, early-morning hours to get picked up by the bus for school.
Lee County Electric Cooperative confirmed they have crews already installing lights at school bus stops in Lehigh Acres. Florida Power & Light Company told WINK News it has the approval to start installing lights at bus stops in that area as well.
That means students will still have to wait a few more weeks for the installation process to be completed at certain bus stops in Lee County.
Thalitta Morais sent in a photo of her son waiting for the school bus surrounded by darkness with only the light from his cell phone to accompany him.
“I turned off my lights and took a picture of him, I couldn’t even see him,” Morais said. “And I was close to him. So imagine someone coming from far away. They’re not gonna see him.”
Morais said her son doesn’t feel safe in the current conditions.
“He goes, ‘Mom I don’t wanna be here alone,’” Morais said. “So that makes me even more worried.”
Earlier this year, Lehigh Acres Street Lighting Unit decided something needed to be done to address the lack of lighting at bus stops.
“It came to us as top priority to put them at every bus stop that we can and every major intersection,” board member Tyler Woodby said.
Woodby said the committee budgeted $3 million to light Lehigh Acres for 2019, and roughly $500,000 of that money will go toward lighting at bus stops.
“We will definitely be putting every penny we can into this,” Woodby said.
The efforts of FPL and LCEC will add up to more than 400 bus stops to receive streetlights. Using a school district map, the streetlighting unit divided the stops, so LCEC will light 235, and FPL will light 177.
“When they reached out to us, we worked with them to help determine the number of lights needed, where the lights would be placed,” said Karen Ryan with LCEC. “And to get a schedule that would have the bus stops lit early on in the school year.”
LCEC said it’s about halfway completed with its project and plans to finish by the end of August. FPL just received all the final paperwork to start the project in its territory, so it will be another eight to 12 weeks before installation begins.
“I believe this should’ve been addressed before the school year started,” Morais said. “He’s going to be here by himself. What can happen?”