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The Source for Public Transportation News and Analysis July 26, 2013
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APTA Honors Systems and Organizations for Sustainability Excellence

APTA will recognize nine public transportation systems and organizations for their high-level achievements in sustainability initiatives at a July 29 luncheon during the Sustainability and Public Transportation Workshop in San Francisco.

Los Angeles Metro will be honored as the first and only North American public transportation system to earn the Platinum Recognition Level in the APTA Sustainability Commitment program. Three public transit agencies—Hampton Roads Transit (HRT), Hampton, VA; King County Metro Transit, Seattle; and the San ­Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA)—have attained Gold status, along with Visual Marking Systems, Twinsburg, OH, which earlier this year became the first public transportation business in North ­America to reach Gold recognition.

APTA will also honor CDM Smith for attaining the Silver level for its ­Cambridge, MA, headquarters, and three Bronze ­honorees: Amtrak; Interurban Transit Partnership, Grand ­Rapids, MI; and ­Dallas Area Rapid Transit. Los ­Angeles Metro, HRT, King County Metro Transit, SFMTA, CDM Smith, and Amtrak all were founding signatories of the Sustainability Commitment program in 2009.

The Los Angeles agency has put in place a full-scale sustainability program that has significantly reduced its ­environmental footprint. These gains led L.A. Metro to achieve Platinum-level recognition from APTA for significant reductions in areas such as energy, water use, and waste.

Measures taken by the agency include converting all its vehicles to clean fuel operation, implementing an ISO 14001: 2004 certified environmental management system, and introducing a green construction policy to reduce air emission from construction equipment and related activities. The sustainability program has saved the agency more than $2 million per year, with additional cost savings expected in the future.

HRT’s efforts reduced air pollutant emissions by 58.8 percent and vehicle energy use by 9.7 percent per transit vehicle mile traveled from 2008-2011—a period during which the agency procured multiple hybrid buses while building and opening its first light rail line. HRT also expanded its internal recycling program, increasing the waste diversion rate from 27.3 percent (2008) to 94.1 percent (2011).

King County Metro Transit saved the equivalent of 2.1 millions of gallons of fuel since 2007 by replacing its diesel buses with fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles. The agency hopes to convert its entire bus fleet to hybrid buses and trolleys by 2018. It also operates the largest public vanpool program in the nation and, more recently, added 20 zero-emission electric vehicles to its rideshare fleet.

SFMTA encourages and provides alternatives to the private automobile by operating the city’s transit vehicles, regulating taxis, managing parking and traffic, and making bicycle and pedestrian improvements city-wide. The agency operates the largest municipal biodiesel fleet in the country, displacing roughly one million gallons of diesel fuel annually, as well as the largest zero-emissions (trolley) bus fleet. As a result, from 1990-2010, the agency has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 23.2 percent per passenger mile traveled.

VMS has focused on green production and procurement policies as a certified Sustainable Green Printing Partnership member, achieving a 15 ­percent reduction in electricity use per line item produced, a 15 percent reduction in water use per line item, and a 9 percent reduction greenhouse gas emissions per line item from 2010-2011. Solid waste has seen a 4 percent reduction per line item and, additionally, VMS has instituted a recycling policy (no policy existed previously), saving nearly $75,000 in 2011 thanks to a new focus on reducing use of raw materials.

Since the inception of the APTA Sustainability Commitment in 2009, 105 public transit agencies and businesses have joined as signatories, pledging to implement processes and actions that will lead to continuous improvement on environmental, social, and economic sustainability. Only 17 organizations have achieved one of four higher levels of recognition—Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum—as determined by specific measured achievements.

Only four other organizations have received Gold level recognition: Intercity Transit, Olympia, WA; Sound Transit, Seattle; Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Philadelphia; and TransLink, Vancouver, BC.

For more information on the Sustainability Commitment program, click here.

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