Green bus shelters which can improve air quality, generate their own power and even attract bees are being trialled in Halesowen.
Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) has worked with the Halesowen Business Improvement District (BID) and Halesowen in Bloom to bring some plant-topped bus shelters to improve the town centre environment.
The shelters are made from recycled materials and their roofs include plants designed to reduce carbon in the environment as well as filters to catch fine particles and improve air quality.
Cllr Kath Hartley (TfWM), Eve O'Connor (Halesowen In Bloom), Cllr Ian Kettle (Dudley Council) and behind Mark Purnell (BSL) welcome the new shelter
Wild flowers, which attract bees and other pollinators, will grow from the eaves and roof edges and appear during the Spring, turning the bus stops to buzz stops.
Further to this are solar panels which will not only generate power for the display screens, lights but also allow people to charge their mobile phones for free while waiting for the bus.
TfWM, which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), teamed up with manufacturer Bus Shelters Ltd to develop the new shelters and installed two prototypes in Queensway.
If the trial proves successful more of the environmentally friendly stops could be installed as TfWM replaces and renews its 5,000 bus shelters across the region – playing a part in helping the region achieve its #wm2041 net-zero carbon targets.
Cllr Kath Hartley, who chairs TfWM’s Transport Delivery Committee, said: “As we face this climate emergency it is important, we look at new ways of improving our environment.
“Not only can it make a difference to the air we breathe but offers real convenience for bus passengers with the offer of free solar-powered phone charging while they wait – a great innovation. I look forward to seeing more of these shelters on our streets in future.”
She was joined by fellow TDC members and Dudley councillors Alan Taylor and David Stanley.
Cllr Ian Kettle, Dudley Council cabinet member for the WMCA, said: “I’m delighted that Halesowen has been chosen to part of this trial, the green shelters are a welcome addition to the town.
“They are going to be positioned on a busy route so it will be really interesting to see the impact they have on reducing emissions and improving air quality.
“I wish the trial every success and I hope to see the shelters being rolled out in other locations across the borough.”
Vicky Rogers of Halesowen BID said: “This is a fantastic example of innovative urban greening as well as a contribution to biodiversity, climate resilience, carbon absorption and the reduction of airborne pollutants. The mix of wildflowers and Sedum plants will attract pollinating insects, of which we have sadly seen the numbers decline over the years.
“Halesowen BID continues to look at further urban greening projects and creating healthy green spaces or perhaps even walls. We have all recognised the importance of health and wellbeing throughout the pandemic and this is certainly a positive step towards making our town greener.”
Eve O’Connor, chair of Halesowen in Bloom, said: “We are over the blooming moon for Halesowen to be chosen for the trial of the new sustainable bus shelters provided by TfWM.
“Halesowen in Bloom champions sustainability and biodiversity and thrilled to be selected for the project, we have renamed the shelters as our Blooming Bee Stops.”
The WMCA has placed the climate change challenge at the centre of plans for the future of transport in the region as part of the wider plans for a net-zero carbon region by 2041 as well as contributing to the UK’s ‘Race to Net Zero’ efforts in the lead-up to its hosting of COP26 in November.
Last month the WMCA submitted three bids to Government for transport funding which included measures such as more hydrogen powered buses, more electric vehicle charging points, more investment in cycling and walking and an expansion of our tram, rail and bus networks and services.