Happen to be in Istanbul? Then hop aboard Botobus, a new eco-friendly public transport option that features an organic rooftop garden. Introduced last week by the Istanbul Transportation Authority (IETT), the “botanical bus” embarked on its first journey between Edirnekapi and Taksim. The project aims to draw attention to global warming and the environment.
The rooftop garden absorbs direct sunlight, which reduces heat gain inside the bus. This will keep the vehicle cooler in summer and, in turn, reduces demand for mechanical air conditioning. The design exploits a symbiotic dependency as that same air conditioner will supply a constant flow of condensate water into the garden’s drip irrigation system.
Fatmanur Yilmaz, the IETT environmental engineer in charge of the project, told ANSAmed that the Botobus garden is planted with species that can thrive in both summer and winter, contributing to offsets in bus emissions. The name is a play on botony and autobus which is Otobus in Turkish.
The travelling garden is being trampled in social media, especially on Twitter, with critics pointing out the irony of putting tiny (inaccessible) planted spaces atop buses while popular green areas in Istanbul are being destroyed.
They mostly refer to the Turkish government’s urban renewal plan for Istanbul’s Taksim Gezi Park, which incited a massive wave of violent national protests in 2013-14.
In the run-up to Halloween, is this travelling topiary an environmental trick or treat? IETT has said there are no plans to add other Botobuses to their fleet.