What to do with wastewater?
Vogelsang assists intercity bus companies with wastewater disposal

Long-distance bus travel is booming. To make sure the journey stays comfortable and the bus restroom is operational at all times, Vogelsang assists intercity bus companies with wastewater disposal.

The demand for intercity bus services in Germany is stronger than ever. The German Federal Statistical Office estimates that around 24 million passengers chose it over rail travel for long-haul journeys in 2016 alone. This was 4.6% more than in the previous year. This would be unequivocally good news, if not for a little-discussed problem that has still not yet been fully resolved: What happens on long journeys when the toilets are “full”? On every intercity bus, the wastewater is collected in a tank below the rows of seats. If  the tank is full, the consequence for the passengers is that the restroom is closed, and they have to wait until the next rest stop.

So what should be done with the wastewater from intercity buses? In Germany, this question has so far lacked a satisfactory answer. The result is: improper release of the wastewater. “To prevent this, there needs to be an environmentally friendly way of disposing of waste water at service stations, truck stops and rest areas that can be operated easily by the bus drivers themselves,” says Christoph Meyer zu Holsten, Project Manager at Vogelsang GmbH & Co.KG. “Our idea was to provide intercity buses with a means of disposal as an additional service when they stop, in collaboration with service stations for example.”

The aim is: greater traveling comfort for the passengers, because the restrooms are emptied regularly and are consequently operational at any moment. The method: a comprehensive network of disposal stations for the high number of long-distance and intercity buses in Germany.

Refueling – and disposing of wastewater at the same time

With the RoadPump Plus, Vogelsang has developed a special supply and disposal system for this purpose, which bus drivers can use to drain the wastewater tanks hygienically themselves. To ensure that on-site requirements were met, Vogelsang developed the disposal station together with the Rosenow truck stop in Kiel [see interview here]. The RoadPump Plus has been in use there since June.

The central component of the RoadPump Plus is a Vogelsang rotary lobe pump from the VX series, which suctions out fecal matter and waste water and disposes of it safely and hygienically in a collection tank. The system is compact in design, like a gasoline pump, and fits neatly into a row of existing gasoline pumps. This allows the bus drivers to refuel while also making sure the waste water tank is drained at the same time. Fresh water for toilet flushing and drinking water for hand washing, coffee and catering services are supplied to the buses via separate hoses.

The wastewater can either be directly suctioned out via a suction coupling and hose, or can be released and collected in a collecting trolley. It is then pumped into the sewer system or into a collection tank for  transportation to the local waste water treatment plant. The whole process takes place without any soiling of the ground or unpleasant odors. The pump is not sensitive to foreign matter. This is important so it can withstand the toilet paper, pieces of cloth, and other objects that frequently end up in wastewater.

Greater comfort and convenience for drivers and passengers

An attractive feature of the RoadPump Plus for operators of truck stops and service stations is that it can be integrated into their own payment and authorization systems. In the view of Thorsten Schlüter, owner and operator of Rosenow truck stop in Kiel, “The RoadPump Plus creates a supply network for intercity bus companies that we as operators benefit from financially. The bus drivers lose hardly any time and don’t harm the environment during disposal. But the most obvious benefit is to the passengers: Finally they are no longer confronted with closed restrooms.”