When it comes to environmental protection and quality of life, Utrecht thinks big. The fourth largest city in the Netherlands and eponymous capital of the province has set itself the goal of becoming the healthiest region in Europe. In addition to the largest bicycle parking garage in the world, the university city with its 350,000 inhabitants now also has access to greened, environmentally friendly bus stops. An idea that also meets with “growing” interest in this country.
Utrecht currently has 491 “Bushokjes”, of which 316 are already planted with robust sedum plants. The “green” bus stops change the Utrecht cityscape, communicate communal environmental awareness and offer numerous benefits that contribute to a healthy living environment. Green roofs help with the separation of particulate matter, can store rainwater and provide cooling on warm days and nights. In Utrecht, they should also improve the biodiversity in the city as a protected habitat for bees and other insects. The bus stops are built and managed by a private company, which also takes care of the plants. 96 bus stops also have solar panels with energy-saving LED lighting and bamboo seats. Maintenance is carried out by electric transporters. The city is currently examining whether solar modules and green roofs can be combined. Should that be the case, the remaining stops will also be greened.
The Bundesverband GebäudeGrün e.V. (BuGG) (German Federal Association of BuildingGreen) sees an “exemplary urban commitment to more sustainability” in the greening of the bus stops in Utrecht and calls for imitation, which it would like to support with IT-based potential analysis. As a quick glance in the Internet shows, this is knocking on an open door for many German municipalities. As of this summer, Leipzig will be one of the first large German cities to receive new ecological street furniture with over 400 bus stops with green roofs. Osnabrück, Arnsberg, Langenfeld or Aachen – in many places the desire for green at bus stops is unmistakable.
Whoever commits the community to green bus stops in local politics can count on public funding. “The greening of bus stops is, on the one hand, in the course of a barrier-free expansion of (city, tram and bus) stops, possible within a specified cost limit according to § 13 paragraph 1 No. 5 ÖPNVG NRW,” said the North-Rhine Westphalia Ministry of Transport. There is also the possibility of funding pursuant § 12 ÖPNVG NRW. Municipalities can submit corresponding applications to the responsible special purpose associations.
Plants, but especially earth and water and maybe snow, weigh quite a bit, and a bus stop must be able to carry that weight safely. According to a NRZ report, the request for green stops in Monheim in the Rhineland raised the question of a possible impairment of the statics.
Municipalities and transport companies with shelters that are already equipped for this are on the safe side. Cologne type shelters from WSM for example – possessing previously tested type statics that ensures sufficient payload, depending on the snow load zone of the installation site. 98 percent of German installation sites come into question for this. Upon request, WSM supplies a special green roof model with matching seedlings and care instructions. Thus, one need not wait long for the new bus stops for people and nature – they are already at your doorstep.