APTA | Passenger Transport
August 16, 2010

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Creating a ‘Sustainability Culture’ Theme of Sixth Annual Workshop

“Creating a Culture of Sustainability” was the theme of APTA’s sixth annual Sustainability and Public Transportation Workshop, July 25-27 in New York City, attended by 170 participants from across the nation.

Workshop attendees explored cutting-edge energy-efficient, economically sound, and socially responsible developments and practices and how they are measured and managed. The event focused on new business practices and innovations in sustainability within the transit industry, the role of public transportation in creating livable communities, and the partnerships that can facilitate that process. Specifically, participants learned ways to save money while improving efficiency, lessening environmental impacts, and promoting strategies that encourage public transit use.

The program also showcased good models for creating local, regional, and state partnerships on sustainability and the opportunities for partnering with the federal government. The New York City metropolitan area served as the central model; participants had the opportunity to learn about initiatives to make the city and region more livable through smart transportation and land-use policies.

Jay Walder, chief executive officer of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, opened the event by emphasizing the mutually inclusive nature of economic and environmental improvement.

Signatories of the APTA Sustainability Commitment reported on their real-world experiences during the workshop, including Fred Hansen, immediate past chair of APTA’s Sustainability Task Force and former general manager of the Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon in Portland, and James Weinstein, chief executive officer of New Jersey Transit Corporation. During the Transit Leaders’ Roundtable, Weinstein explained that transit agencies can find unusual partners to be great supporters to work on the land-use/transportation connection.

APTA President William Millar reinforced this point when he said: “Allies in environmental organizations, in a world of green energy, are invaluable partners in creating greener communities—as are planners, developers, housing advocates, and the business community.”

Among the session topics were “Creating a Sustainability Culture,” which focused on embedding the concept of sustainability within an organization from top to bottom; “Sustainable Planning, Policy, and Community Development,” referring to sustainable practices in transportation planning, land use planning, and urban design; and “Green Design, Materials, and Infrastructure,” about integrating sustainability into facilities and capital projects and mitigating environmental impacts while under construction.

Another major focus of the workshop was livable communities: specifically, the ways in which transit systems, regional councils, and metropolitan planning organizations can partner to create sustainable and livable outcomes in plans, programs, and projects. Several speakers noted that the pursuit of livable communities is not about limiting citizens’ options but rather, expanding their choices, and that many younger people are moving toward livability because they are “fatigued by driving hours in a car” to get to work or home.

In his conclusions, Hansen remarked that the workshop not only showed the depth and scope of sustainability initiatives being addressed by the transit industry; it demonstrated that sustainability is no longer a “side issue” in the industry but becoming “business as usual.”


Participants in the closing leaders’ roundtable at the APTA Sustainability and Public Transportation Workshop were, from left: Bob Franklin, vice-president of the board and chair of the sustainability/green committee for the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District; Arthur T. Leahy, chief executive officer, Los Angeles Metro; David McAlister, director of corporate development, Parsons Brinckerhoff; Fred Hansen; Amy Miller, director of marketing, New Flyer; Peter Varga, chair, APTA Small Operators Committee, and chief executive officer of The Rapid, Grand Rapids, MI; James Weinstein; and Jeff Wharton, chair, APTA Business Member Business Development Committee, and president of IMPulse NC LLC.



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