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The Source for Public Transportation News and Analysis December 16, 2011
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Sustainability: Adding Value to the Industry
BY PETRA MOLLET, APTA Vice President-Strategy, and RICH WEAVER, APTA Director of Planning, Policy, and Sustainability

This year, APTA’s focus on “greening” the public transportation industry continued to gain ground as increasing numbers of members participated in the APTA Sustainability Committee and annual workshop.

The committee, headed by Chair Kevin Desmond, general manager, King County Metro Transit, and Vice Chair Susannah Kerr Adler, vice president/national director-transportation facilities, URS Corporation, aims to support the adoption of sustainable principles (economic, environmental, and social) in the industry and to articulate public transit’s contributions to local, regional, state, and national sustainability and livability objectives.

Recently, the committee developed a draft White Paper to communicate what the “Social Pillar of Sustainability” means to the public transportation industry.

Its latest focus is on eco procurement: incorporating sustainability into procurement practices. One specific area of focus is how a transit agency can convey its sustainability needs for a particular project or product in a Request for Proposal.

A major effort of APTA’s sustainability work has been developing the APTA Sustainability Commitment launched in 2009—a volunteer agreement to lay the foundation for a solid sustainability program within an organization. To date, more than 80 APTA public transit agency and business members have signed on. To support signatories, committee members are developing standards on how to measure key sustainability indicators (metrics) such as carbon emissions, energy, and water use.

This year, TransLink, the regional transportation authority in the Vancouver, BC, metropolitan area, became the first signatory to the APTA Sustainability Commitment to achieve gold status. Clean electricity, new equipment, an increase in ridership, and a brand new rapid transit line that met its marks within weeks of opening all contributed to the agency’s achievement.

TransLink’s successes included cutting diesel fuel use by 1.28 million liters, largely based on its Idle Free campaign that had drivers turn off their buses at depots/exchanges when stopped for longer than three minutes, and curbing energy use in facility by 16 percent (per passenger kilometer) through energy retrofits and other changes to improve energy efficiency.

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