4 Major Cities Where Rooftop Bus Gardens Have Sprouted Up

By Shannon McKee
Published: September 4, 2017 | Last updated: April 23, 2021 06:01:39
Key Takeaways

The famous quote “Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it” may apply to rooftop bus gardens. Originally scoffed at, these mobile gardens are beginning to gain traction worldwide.

In 2016, India ran a contest asking for contestants to come up with ways to fight the intense amounts of smog in Delhi. One of the contestants came up with the idea of planting gardens on top of buses to act as an air filter, though not everyone took this idea seriously.


In fact, the entry did not make it far in the contest. Interestingly enough, however, there are several projects in the past and today that put this concept and other similar concepts into place.

Spain Rooftop Bus Garden Project

A project in Spain spearheaded by Marc Grañén features phytokinetic gardens that combine a steel frame with a lightweight aquaponic foam that doesn’t add a large amount of weight to the bus to help protect gas mileage.


The plants used include ferns, small shrubs, and a carpet of succulents that help to keep the bed moist by retaining the moisture that’s in the foam. A mesh keeps it all in place as the bus moves. The bus itself provides the moisture thanks to the air conditioning unit. This project had been installed on both a city bus and a van.

The vision that Grañén had for this project is that it will add to the green space in the city. It can use the waste water that wouldn’t serve a purpose previously and can help to cool the bus down, reducing the amount of air conditioning used. This small contribution can also help to cut down on carbon dioxide.

New York City Rooftop Bus Garden Project

Similar to the Spain Project, the New York City project features placing a small garden that’s not so heavy that it impacts the gas mileage of the bus while getting the benefits of more green spaces in the city. Marco Antonio Castro Cosio is a New York City designer that created a similar idea for a rooftop bus garden using a green roof system.


The purpose of this project is all about reclaiming space while improving the quality of life in the city. The urban heat island effect is just one of the reasons that Cosio created the Bus Roots project for his thesis. His efforts also included a rooftop garden on a food truck featuring an edible garden that put a new twist in only using local produce.

Chicago Train Garden Project

Why stop at bus gardens? There was also a project in Chicago that used a flat train car to plant a mobile garden. Also a student project, the Chicago mobile garden idea used native plants to help reduce the amount of maintenance and watering the train car would need during this project.


This particular project put a spotlight on the need for more green spaces and the benefits of using native species in gardening.

Singapore Bus Stop Garden

The most recent project featuring gardening and transportation is taking place at a bus stop in Singapore. The bus stop has a huge number of features that make this a fantastic design, but one of the most interesting is the fact the rooftop garden even has a small tree planted in it.

This bus stop was created in late 2016 as an experiment, and the government will decide this year if they will expand this idea throughout the transit system.

This trend of mixing transportation, which is one of the greatest conveniences and biggest challenges to the environment, with planting in unusual areas has been met with some scoffing. In fact, these projects often didn’t take off to transform the city buses and trains into green spaces.

The takeaway here is that people are starting to realize that creating green spaces, even in the most unlikely places, is a step in the right direction for combating the urban sprawl that exists.

Gardeners, whether those with traditional outdoor gardens or hydroponic gardens, can speak up to help push forward these transformative transportation trends and similar concepts in our own areas.


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Written by Shannon McKee | Freelance Writer, Gardener

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Shannon McKee lives in Ohio and has been a freelance writer for several years now, including on her blog, Nicknamed by loved ones a garden hoarder over the past few years, she grows a wide variety of plants in her urban garden.

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