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The Source for Public Transportation News and Analysis May 6, 2011
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How Did Transit Agencies Celebrate Earth Day?

In honor of Earth Day on April 22, public transportation agencies throughout the U.S. hosted celebrations and provided incentives for their communities to go green by using transit. Here are a few examples of APTA members spreading the word about the green benefits of public transit.

Broward County Transit (BCT) in Pompano Beach, FL, introduced a video titled “Go Green with Broward County Transit” on April 22. The video, available at the agency's web site, reiterates the agency’s commitment to contributing to cleaner air through its investment in hybrid-electric and articulated buses.

“Riding BCT, and other forms of public transportation, is one of the most effective actions individuals can take to reduce their carbon footprint. And as gas prices continue to rise, we are encouraging individuals to make the switch to BCT today. Together, we can do our part—one bus ride at a time,” said Tim Garling, director of BCT and host of the video.

The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit District (MARTA) showcased its newest green project—the federally funded Laredo Bus Facility solar canopy installation—during its “Green-A-Palooza” April 15 at the Edgewood/Candler Park Rail Station. Once completed, the installation will be the largest structure of its kind in Georgia and the second largest at a U.S. transit system.

The solar panels will generate enough electricity to offset a significant portion of the Laredo facility’s annual electricity consumption and will have the same environmental benefit as planting more than 285 acres of trees a year. This innovative and effective initiative will further enhance MARTA’s growing sustainability program, which already includes clean fuel buses, water reclamation and harvesting operations, the installation of LED lighting, and a waste recycling program.

Because environmental awareness is an ongoing activity, Valley Metro in Phoenix helped promote bicycling events throughout April, Valley Bike Month, as part of the valley’s Clean Air Campaign. The effort included the Great Bike Chase—a bike expo and safety rodeo held in conjunction with a baseball game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the San Francisco Giants—and Bike to Work Day on April 20.

The Riverside Transit Agency (RTA) in Riverside, CA, invited passengers to send proof that they rode the bus between April 18 and 22—a validated Day Pass, 7-Day Pass, or 30-Day Pass—to enter in a drawing for a free 30-Day Pass.

“Public transportation has been at the forefront of clean-fuels technology for more than a decade, and agencies such as RTA are continually working together to make the industry cleaner and greener,” said RTA Chairman Bob Buster. “Taking public transportation makes sense on Earth Day or any other day. It puts extra cash in your pocket, reduces stress, and helps our environment.”

Echoing Buster’s comments was Kathleen Rogers, president of the Earth Day Network. “Using mass transit is one of the easiest and most economical ways people can ‘act green,’ especially given surging gas prices,” she said. “We are delighted to count Riverside Transit Agency as an important member of our Billion Acts of Green campaign for Earth Day 2011.”

The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) distributed 5,000 free tickets at the April 21 BART Blue Sky Festival, held at Justin Herman Plaza at the corner of the Embarcadero and Market Street in San Francisco, near the Embarcadero BART Station. Dozens of eco-exhibitors took part in the event, which featured samples of healthy and organic food and live music.

Costumed penguin and polar bear characters, which represent species potentially endangered by global warming, greeted people during the event to acknowledge how, every weekday, BART riders keep four million pounds of carbon dioxide out of the environment.

In Tampa, FL, the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) commemorated Earth Day by inviting passengers to “Ride Free with a Friend.” According to HART, riding public transportation for just one day will reduce the rider’s carbon footprint by 20 pounds.

Laketran in Painesville Township, OH, near Cleveland, added a Gas Saving Calculator to its home page on Earth Day. The calculations take into account commute distance, vehicle miles per gallon, and monthly parking fees downtown, then compare the savings to the purchase of a Laketran 31-day commuter express ticket for $135. Cleveland commuters can save $1,500 to $2,000 annually by riding Laketran.

As part of Earth Week in southwestern Florida, LeeTran in Fort Myers, FL, provided free rides April 19 for “Try Transit Day” and reported a 42 percent ridership increase over the same Tuesday in 2010, or 15,359 rides compared with 10,814. The figure was 30 percent above the 11,841 rides provided the previous day.

Agency staff reported helping a number of new riders navigate the system, saying that many were pleasantly surprised at the speed and ease of their commute.

For example, airport employee Martha Suarez wrote a thank-you note to LeeTran regarding her trip from Cape Coral, which included a transfer at the Bell Tower Shops.



The Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA) in Albany, NY, showed its support of Earth Day and environmentally sustainable practices by unveiling the U.S. Postal Service’s new “Go Green” stamps. From left are Albany Postmaster Joseph Finan, Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Judith Enck, and CDTA Chief Executive Officer Carm Basile. CDTA Travel Trainers also provided Earth Day information at events for New York State DOT employees and the public, and participated in a press conference and bicycle parade in Albany.

Ron Kilcoyne, center, chief executive officer of Greater Bridgeport Transit (GBT) in Bridgeport, CT, joined riders in signing the agency’s 2011 Sustainability Pledge as Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, left, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) stand by; the three officials also participated in a live radio broadcast. GBT’s other Earth Day activities included participating in a “Party for the Planet” at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo, giveaways of reusable grocery bags and red maple tree saplings, and a food drive for the Bridgeport Rescue Mission.



Intercity Transit in Olympia, WA, distributed “Undriver’s Licenses” at green-themed community events surrounding Earth Day. People receive the “licenses” when they make a pledge to use transportation alternatives and skip using the car. The agency’s other Earth Day activities included a presentation on transportation and green building processes at the South Sound Green Tour Eco Expo and participation in a sustainability panel discussion during a forum at South Puget Sound Community College.

The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority held an Earth Day open house—featuring local band Conjunto Los Pinkys—at the North Lamar Transit Center in Austin, TX. Bus operator Deanna Jackson and Field Supervisor Don Earle join in the promotional effort.


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