Stops for people and nature

When it comes to environmental protection and quality of life, Utrecht thinks big: the fourth-largest city in the Netherlands and capital of the province of the same name has set out to become the healthiest region in Europe. In addition to the world’s largest bicycle parking garage, the university city of 350,000 now also has greened, environmentally friendly bus stops. An idea that is also attracting growing interest in this country.

Utrecht currently has 491 “busokjes”, 316 of which are already planted with robust sedum plants. The “green” bus stops are transforming Utrecht’s cityscape, communicating municipal environmental awareness and offering numerous benefits designed to contribute to a healthy living environment: Green roofs help capture particulate matter, can store rainwater, and provide cooling on warm days and nights. In Utrecht, they also aim to improve 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 supply of the plants. 96 stops also feature solar panels with energy-saving LED lighting and seats made of bamboo. Maintenance is carried out with electric transporters. Currently, the city is looking into combining solar panels and green roofs. If that is the case, the remaining stops would also be landscaped.

Popular idea

The Bundesverband GebäudeGrün e.V. (BuGG) sees the greening of Utrecht’s bus stops as an “exemplary urban commitment to greater sustainability” and calls for imitation, which it would like to support with IT-supported potential analyses. As a look at the web shows, he is preaching to the choir in many German municipalities: Starting this summer, Leipzig will be one of the first major German cities to get a new ecological street furniture system with over 400 bus stops with a green roof. Osnabrück, Arnsberg, Langenfeld or Aachen – in many places the wish for green on bus stops is being voiced.

Promotion possible

Whoever advocates for green stops at the local level can count on public funding. “The greening of bus stops is required, on the one hand, in the course of a barrier-free expansion of (city, streetcar and bus) stops in accordance with § 13 para. 1 No. 5 ÖPNVG NRW is possible within the framework of a certain cost limit,” informs the state transport ministry. There is also the possibility of funding in accordance with § 12 ÖPNVG NRW. Municipalities can submit corresponding applications to the relevant special-purpose associations.

Practicable solution

Plants, but especially soil and water, and perhaps snow, weigh something, and a waiting shelter must certainly bear this weight. In Monheim in the Rhineland, the desire for green stops therefore raised the question of a possible impairment of the statics, according to an NRZ report.

Municipalities and transport companies are on the safe side with canopies that are equipped for this. For example, bus shelters of the Köln type from WSM – they have a pre-tested type statics and guarantee, depending on the snow load zone of the installation site, a sufficient load capacity. 98 percent of German installation sites are suitable for this. On request, WSM can supply a special green roof model with suitable planting material and care instructions. So you don’t have to wait much longer for the new stops for people and nature – they are already on the doorstep.