Investment Portal of the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation

–40 degrees with Wi-Fi and climate control: what bus stops are made in the Arctic

The Polar Region is preparing for winter: warm bus stops are being installed in the regions during the summer months

18 july 2023

Every resident of the Polar Region knows how sad it is to wait for a bus in winter. When the temperature outside starts at minus thirty, the only thing left to do is to suffer silently (or aloud) and move vigorously so that the transport picks up a living person, not an ice sculpture, from the bus stop. Luckily for regions with harsh climatic conditions, technological advances together with the government and investors are trying to prevent such situations. For nearly a decade, local authorities in the AZRF have been installing warm bus stops where people can wait for a bus without risk to their health.

It started with Yakutia and the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area. In Yakutsk, private business was an investor in the project: since 2014, insulated bus stop pavilions have been built there, which were combined with sales points or mini-offices. The first bus stop was put in Surgut in 2017. The Murmansk Region launched the project in 2022, starting with its capital city—20 bus stops with safe infrared heaters and even heated benches were installed there. In Salekhard, there were 33 of them by February 2023, and 5 more were going to be built this spring. By the end of 2022, Norilsk had 65 warm pavilions, and the authorities planned to build at least 20 more in 2023, bringing the total number to a hundred over the next two years. 

The scale of improving the comfort of Arctic residents is impressive, and the regional leaders, together with residents and investors, are not losing pace. Thus, in the summer of 2023, 7 more warm bus stops will be built in Noyabrsk, YNAA. At the moment, there are 20 of them in the city, and this summer, the plan is to have as many as 27.

Warm, bright, and no cold bites

Since the launch of the project, the design and quality of the pavilions have grown considerably. Most of these stops are now new-generation modular systems. First of all, of course, they consist of an enclosed pavilion equipped for winter. And then, at the administration's and citizens' discretion, a lot of options are available on how to increase the level of comfort and safety—there are a lot of designs for modular bus stops.

For example, there are bus stops consisting of warm and cold modules. The first module is heated by a convector and a heat curtain, and this is where people come in when it is cold outside. And the second protects against the wind, which is a key factor in the cold. The roofs of both modules can be equipped with LED lighting, which decorates the urban space and increases the level of public illumination, and thus comfort and safety. Panoramic glazing provides excellent visibility, but at the same time is protected from vandals—tempered glass or triplex are used in the production of bus stop pavilions, i.e. several layers of glass glued together with a polymer film. Even if it breaks, the pieces won't shatter.

There are also bus stops that combine the functionality of open and enclosed modules—they are warm in the cold season and cool in the hot season. This effect is achieved by the presence of two systems—convection heating and air conditioning, as well as an infrared heating system.

And beyond that, the imagination is free to run wild depending on the budget size. Warm floor, lightbox, interactive display with a route map and time of arrival, germicidal UV lamps to disinfect the air—all for those waiting for the bus. Some bus stops can even be equipped with independent of the municipal grid energy supply—wind generators or solar panels—at the customer's discretion.

For example, in Labytnangi, YNAA, bus stops are breaking Arctic smart records—using temperature sensors, the pavilion independently controls the indoor microclimate. If the outdoor temperature drops to zero, the bus stop will switch on the seat heating, and when it gets even lower, the floor heating will bring the ultimate level of comfort. Muravlenko, the city in the YNAA, is also keeping up—it saves from the cold with IR heaters and heated seats, while equipment with outlets for gadgets, Wi-Fi modules and interactive screens is implied by default. In Murmansk, in addition to IR heaters, the bus stops are also equipped with motion sensors that save energy and do not heat an empty pavilion.

Also beautiful and locally made

Modern bus stops, particularly in the Arctic, are a crucial infrastructure component and should be designed accordingly. The design of the pavilions varies, but recently they have been styled in accordance with the Arctic design code. For pavilions in some cities, such as Noyabrsk, full-fledged design projects are being drafted. For example, five bus stops—on Prospekt Mira and Vysotsky Street—were designed by Art. Lebedev Studio.

In addition to the obvious usefulness, these projects used another curious element—the identity of Noyabrsk public transport, which was created by the studio. Identity is recognisability, the thing that makes an image stand out. Such bus stops are easy to see even in a blizzard—their colour is also visible amidst the snow. When it is dark, the light sensor switches on the light and the name of the bus stop is written in large print and can be recognised from a distance.

By the way, the bus stops in Noyabrsk are now manufactured rather than purchased from elsewhere. This makes the city a leader in Yamal in installing warm bus stops. The bus stops are manufactured by a local company using proven technology, building both modules, open and enclosed, from scratch. The latter is insulated with polystyrene foam, lined with moisture-resistant plywood, equipped inside with heaters, alarm button, video surveillance cameras and, of course, put comfortable benches.

People are happy that 'it is -40 outside and +23 in a warm bus stop,' and write in social networks that in the conditions of the North it is not bliss but a necessity. The local manufacturer's bus stops are also smart—there are video cameras to keep order, and Wi-Fi and USB outlets to ensure that citizens don't get bored while waiting for transport. If there is an emergency, the 112 button is also available and can and should be pressed if a person needs urgent help.

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