APTA | Passenger Transport
The Source for Public Transportation News and Analysis December 14, 2012
Forward   |   Calendar   |   APTA Home   |   Advertise with Us
Sustainability: Adding Value to the Industry
BY KYLE BELL, APTA Program Manager-Environment & Infrastructure

As we finish the year, public transportation is becoming cleaner and more energy-efficient.

Nationally, the number of natural gas-powered public transit vehicles in service has expanded from 3 percent of the fleet in 1996 to 19 percent and growing in 2011. Hybrid-electric buses represented 9 percent of the fleet in 2011, compared with 0.5 percent in 2005. Public transit vehicles powered with other fuels such as fuel cells, electricity, and biodiesel also show gains.

Public transit agencies continue to integrate sustainability principles into the design, maintenance, and operation of their facilities and fleets. In support of these efforts, APTA has continued to promote environmentally effective, socially responsible, and economically efficient practices for the industry.

During 2012, APTA’s sustainability efforts benefitted from improved communications capacity, additional technical resources and member services, and increased participation, all while adding value for members. The association achieved this through new venues for collaboration, new APTA Standards processes, several high-profile member recognition awards, and the annual APTA Sustainability & Public Transportation Workshop.

Further, APTA’s sustainability program started the year with an addition to the staff. Kyle Bell, program manager-environment & infrastructure, joined Rich Weaver, director of planning, policy, and sustainability, Art Guzzetti, vice president-policy, and Petra Mollet, chief of staff, to assist in carrying out APTA’s varied sustainability initiatives.

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

The committee has supported the ongoing redesign of the APTA Sustainability website, making it more user-friendly, interactive, and focused on communicating the value of sustainability to members. Tying in with this endeavor, a member-led effort to develop a Sustainability Managers’ webinar has led to several successful monthly meetings with a member-driven agenda. Most recently, the group focused on the value of Environmental and Sustainability Management Systems to public transit agencies, and related FTA training opportunities.

Under the guidance of the Sustainability Committee, the APTA Standards Sustainability Metrics Working Group published the recommended practice, Quantifying and Reporting Transit Sustainability Metrics. This document attempts to simplify the process of reporting and tracking key indicators of sustainability for transit agency signatories to the APTA Sustainability Commitment by providing detailed point-by-point guidance to practitioners.

The next step for this working group, currently underway, is to define social and economic sustainability principles and measurement tools for the public transit industry.

Sustainability Commitment
APTA’s Sustainability Commitment, launched in 2009, is a voluntary agreement to lay the foundation for a solid sustainability program within an organization. To date, the commitment has 107 signatories, including 50 businesses and 57 public transit agencies—an addition of more than 20 signatories this year.

Signatories may receive credit for verified improvement in these key sustainability indicators (bronze, silver, gold, and platinum), as judged by a panel of members.

Joining the APTA Standards process is the Sustainable Procurement Working Group. This multi-disciplinary team recently completed a cross-cutting survey of the industry and is currently defining its work plan. The group aims to bring together public- and private-sector experts to define common expectations for sustainable materials procurement, further linking sustainability as strategic goal to day-to-day operations.

Over the course of the year, the association welcomed three additional public transit agencies that have achieved gold status in the APTA Sustainability Commitment.

* Sound Transit of Seattle, WA, among other accomplishments, totaled an 11 percent reduction in energy use per trip and reduced criteria air pollutant emissions by approximately 15 percent per trip through adding diesel-electric hybrids to its fleet;

* Intercity Transit of Olympia, WA, achieved a 35 percent overall increase in displaced greenhouse gas emissions and moved to full B20 biodiesel use in its revenue vehicles; and

* The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) of Philadelphia, PA, achieved a 10 percent reduction in fuel use per passenger-mile traveled (PMT) and a 4 percent reduction in electric use per PMT. One-third of SEPTA’s bus fleet is now hybrid-diesel.

These agencies joined 2010 recipient TransLink of Vancouver, BC, as APTA’s most highly awarded members.

The gold award for SEPTA coincided with the annual APTA Sustainability and Public Transportation Workshop in August, which SEPTA hosted. From Aug. 5-8, more than 170 participants gathered in Philadelphia to meet, network, and hear presentations from their peers. The theme of this year’s workshop was “Innovative Partnerships for Sustainability and State of Good Repair” and featured presentations from SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey and a tour of SEPTA’s Letterly Substation wayside energy storage project. FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan delivered the keynote address, discussing the link between sustainability and state of good repair.

The coming year promises much more for APTA’s sustainability efforts. This includes ongoing APTA Standards projects on topics of value to the industry, continued knowledge-sharing and conference sessions, and several recognition-level applications in the pipeline. APTA looks forward to success in 2013.


Photo by Heather Redfern, SEPTA
APTA recognized SEPTA for achieving the Gold Recognition Level of the association’s Sustainability Commitment during the 2012 APTA Sustainability and Public Transportation Workshop in Philadelphia. SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey, left, accepts the honor from Kevin Desmond, chair, APTA Sustainability Committee, and general manager, King County Metro Transit, Seattle, WA.


« Previous Article
Return to Top
Next Article »
» The Mendocino Transit Authority, Ukiah, CA, is seeking applicants for the general manager position. [More]
» The Guam Regional Transit Authority has an opening for an executive manager. [More]
View more Classified Ads »
TO PLACE AN AD: E-mail or fax the requested date(s) of publication to: ptads@apta.com or FAX to (202) 496-4898. Mailing address is: Passenger Transport, 1666 K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006. Ad copy is not accepted by phone. DEADLINE: Noon, Monday, one week prior to publication date. INFORMATION: Phone (202) 496-4819.
© Copyright 2012 American Public Transportation Association
1666 K Street NW, Washington, DC 20006
Telephone (202) 496-4882 • Fax (202) 496-4321
Print Version | Search Back Issues | Contact Us | Unsubscribe