City, MBTA Bus Stop Roofs Will Come Alive Along the Fairmount Corridor

The 'Fairmount Line Bus Shelter Living Roof Initiative' will turn the shelters into mini green-spaces.

The MBTA is adding a little greenery to some of their bus stops in the city, bringing the idea of rooftop gardens down to the street level.

Through a partnership between the Fairmount-Indigo Line CDC Collaborative, the Talbot Norfolk Triangle Eco Innovation District, and Land Escapes Design Inc., three bus stop shelters will come to life next week when they’re retrofitted with soil that will grow sedums and mosses to soak up the heavy rainfall, and hopefully weed out the awkward silence often shared between riders huddled in the shelters by giving passengers something to talk about.

“On an environmental level, it’s about reducing the amount of storm water entering the drainage system, helping to keep the air clean, and providing a green neighborhood aesthetic,” said Michael Chavez, an architectural designer and Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow for the Fairmount-Indigo Line CDC Collaborative. “Very few people get to see green buildings and green roofs around Boston. This is a way to engage with people in common spaces and on the street to help better explain what green infrastructure is and what the benefits are.”

The Fairmount-Indigo Line CDC Collaborative is a grassroots community group that works to enhance the living spaces serviced by the Fairmount Commuter Rail, like Dorchester, Mattapan, and Hyde Park.

Called the “Fairmount Line Bus Shelter Living Roof Initiative,” the three bus stops—two of them are owned by the MBTA, and one is owned by the city—will become home to rectangular-spaces filled with two-to-three inches of a special soil, said Chavez.

Land Escapes Design Inc. and Green Living Technologies International, a manufacturer of green roofs and walls, are donating $15,000 in materials and labor for the project, which will be partly installed and later maintained by YouthBuild Boston and the TNT Eco-Teens Program.

Informational panels made up by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Soak Up the Rain Campaign will also be part of the shelter project so that riders standing idly by can read up on what the project is all about as they wait for their bus.

“We see bus stops as mini-community space. It’s where they see friends or huddle when there is a rain storm,” said Chavez. “It’s a place people are often social and together, and we want to use it to add to the discussion about how green infrastructure can benefit the environment.”

Because this will be a pilot project, which will stay up through November, only moss and sedums will be featured on the rooftop spaces for now. But Chavez said he envisions an upgraded system next year, when they look to make the program grow. “We will be looking to have something more extravagant next year,” he said. “We got a grant…to do four more next year, and we want to put larger plants like colorful flowers that really stand out.”

He said there could be opportunities to work with other youth groups in the city to plant herbs or shrubbery on the tops of the shelters. “I think there’s a range of different things that can go up there to really catch people’s attention as they’re rolling by on a bus, or in their car,” said Chavez.

The soil will be installed on Monday, July 28, near the Talbot Station.