Telling the Story of Public Transportation’s Positive Environmental Impact
From using hybrid buses and solar bus shelters to saving carbon emissions and reducing our country’s dependence on foreign oil, U.S. public transportation is doing its part to help the environment, improve air quality, and help our country reach energy independence as the country celebrates the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.
“Everyone who cares about the environment should care about public transportation,” said American Public Transportation Association (APTA) President William Millar. “The tens of millions of Americans who support and ride public transportation are helping this country combat climate change and should be applauded.”
Public transportation has a proven record of making a difference in regard to a region’s carbon emissions. Today the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced that its carbon emissions had been audited by the Climate Registry. Using this data and working with APTA, the MTA has announced that it saved 17.4 million metric tons of carbon emissions a year.
“I agree with President Obama’s challenge to everyone to do something good for the environment, like riding a bus or a train,” said Millar. “Earth Day is a chance to make positive contributions to the environment and show your support for public transit at the same time.”
April 22 is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, and public transportation agencies across the country are joining in the celebration with a variety of green initiatives and activities aimed at raising awareness and improving the environment. Some public transit systems like San Joaquin Regional Transit District (Stockton, CA), Citibus (Lubbock, TX ), and the Regional Transit System (Gainesville, FL) have used the 40th anniversary Earth Day Show us your “E” ads on their buses. Seven Chicago-region transportation agencies are convening a first-of-its-kind Transportation Summit to improve coordination among the region’s transportation leaders. Nearly 100 leaders have been invited to participate, including Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.
“Going green has been a focus of public transportation systems nationwide for several years,” said Millar. “Every year U.S. public transportation use reduces our country’s carbon footprint by 37 million metric tons of carbon emissions and saves 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline.”
As of 2008, hybrid buses, natural gas buses, and biodiesel fueled vehicles were common among public transit systems and made up nearly 30 percent of all transit buses. Listed below are examples of the diversity of bus fleets across the country in small, mid-sized, and large systems, including some Earth Day bus events and announcements regarding new buses.
- Cambria County Transit Authority (Johnstown, PA) is scheduled to receive its first hybrid bus this May.
- Central Contra Costa Transit Authority (Concord, CA) will introduce nine new hybrid electric buses in the next few weeks.
Residents can have a free “test ride” at Earth Day activities on Saturday, April 24.
- Central Ohio Transit Authority (Columbus, OH) is putting its first six hybrid electric buses into service in June. With LED lighting used inside and outside the vehicle, the lights will consume 85 percent less energy and last 35 times longer than incandescent or halogen bulbs.Additionally, 40 new low-emissions, ultra-low sulfur diesel buses are on order.
- Centre Area Transportation Authority (State College, PA) has a bus fleet powered entirely by clean-burning compressed natural gas (CNG).
- Capital Area Transportation Authority (Lansing, MI) has just introduced two new diesel-electric hybrid buses this week, bringing its total of hybrid buses to 23.
- CTTRANSIT (Hartford, CT) already has a 40-foot fuel cell bus and plans to put four more fuel buses into service in the next several months. It is also planning on taking delivery of 41 hybrid electric buses this year.
- Dallas Area Rapid Transit (Dallas, TX) has bike racks on more than 550 buses, making it easier for cyclists to take transit.
- Delaware Transit Corporation (Wilmington, DE) has partnered with the University of Delaware to purchase and operate two fuel cell powered buses. Its entire statewide fleet of more than 400 use low sulfur fuel.
- Fort Worth Transportation Authority (Fort Worth, TX) has a bus fleet that operates on compressed natural gas. It started its conversion to CNG in 1988.
- Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (Cleveland, OH) uses environmentally friendly fuels to power all of its bus and rail fleet.
- Regional Transit System (Gainesville, FL) is operating all 22 campus shuttle buses on biodiesel fuel and is expanding this biodiesel program to its entire fleet by the end of 2010.
- Intercity Transit (Olympia, WA) has operated its bus fleet on green, clean biodiesel fuel since 2002 and will add hybrid diesel electric to its fleet this summer.
- Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (Boston, MA) announced this week the rollout of a new fleet of 25 diesel hybrid buses will be deployed completely by the end of June.
- Metro (Cincinnati, OH) is celebrating the first anniversary of their six hybrid buses. In the past year, Metro estimates that 330,000 passengers rode on the hybrid buses and that the buses saved Metro almost 7,000 gallons of fuel. In addition, in one year, the six hybrid buses prevented an estimated 190 tons of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the environment (compared to standard diesel buses).
- Muncie Indiana Transit System (Muncie, IN) is just putting into service its first five hybrid electric-diesel buses, which will use a combination of soy biodiesel fuel and recharging batteries.
- Gold Coast Transit (Oxnard, CA) buses (54) and paratransit vehicles (24) are CNG fueled.
- Port Authority of Allegheny County (Pittsburgh, PA) has added 20 more hybrid buses to its fleet, bringing the total to 26. Two additional hybrids will join the fleet by June 30. Also, its paratransit service ACCESS will be converting 31 of its gasoline-powered vehicles to propane powered vehicles.
- Regional Transportation District (Denver, CO) has added more than 350 ultra-low-sulfur diesel busses in the past five years. They reduce exhaust emission by 90 percent. In addition, they have nine diesel-hybrid electric buses that reduce particulate emissions by 90 percent (in comparison to regular diesel buses).
- San Joaquin Regional Transit District (Stockton, CA) has more than 40 percent hybrids in its bus fleet in the Stockton metropolitan area and the intercity area. Since 2006, these hybrid buses have used nearly 300,000 fewer gallons of fuel than the buses they replaced.
Other green activities taken by public transit systems that make a difference:
- San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (Oakland, CA) is rolling out a new bike police patrol program that will use the cleanest form of transportation – pedal power.
- Delaware Transit Corporation (Wilmington, DE) has 56 solar lit bus shelters and 9 solar-powered and solar lit bus stops with a rider signaling device especially useful for signaling buses at night.
- The Rapid (Grand Rapids, MI) has begun work on its second LEED-certified facility. Green features include: increased day light/natural light, two bus washers with water reclaim systems, snow melt systems on the drive aprons, rain water collection, solar water heating, and small roof-top wind turbines. The facility is expected to be LEED-certified at the Silver level.
- Intercity Transit (Olympia, WA) is installing more solar-powered bus stops after initiating tests of the technology the last several years. The lighting systems are powered by a battery that builds up electricity throughout the day.
- MTA Metro North (New York, NY) is installing more efficient compressors at various yards. Each compressor replacement will result in a savings of 105,000 kilowatts per year, which equates to a reduction of 75 tons of carbon emissions annually.
- TriMet (Portland, OR) has been able to save paper and printing costs by reducing the number of schedules it prints by more than 66 percent by making real-time arrival information available via phone and handheld devices.
Some public transportation systems are sponsoring free rides, giveaways, and drawings to thank riders:
- Cambria County Transit Authority (Johnstown, PA) is offering free rides on April 22 on its fixed routes and a free week of rides to new riders looking to try transit that week.
- Capital District Transportation Authority (Albany, NY) is giving free rides on Earth Day for anyone who is wearing green.
- Central Contra Costa Transit Authority (Concord, CA) is inviting green businesses and services to exhibit and will have entertainment and prize drawings.
- Citibus (Lubbock, TX) will offer free rides, and drivers will be teaching the Earth Day “E” sign to riders.
- Franklin Transit Authority (Franklin, TN) is providing free rides on all four fixed routes on Thursday, April 22.
- Greater Bridgeport Transit (Bridgeport, CT) will have events, including giveaways all day long on Earth Day at the bus terminal.
- Gold Coast Transit (Oxnard, CA) is offering free rides from April 10 – May 10.
- Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (Cleveland, OH) provided free service from Public Square to EarthFest at the Metroparks Zoo on On Sunday, April 18.
- Greater Peoria Mass Transit District (Peoria, IL) is participating in the Earth Day Festival in Forest Park Nature Center on April 26, passing out recyclable promotional items.
- Hampton Roads Transit (Hampton, VA) is exhibiting a bus, equipped with a bus rack, and offering a variety of giveaways on Sunday, May 2, 2010, at Mount Trashmore Park, one of the nation’s first recycled waste landfills.
- Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (Tampa, FL) is offering free rides when riders travel with a friend.
- Intercity Transit (Olympia, WA) is launching the popular, nationally recognized Bicycle Commuter Contest, which rewards cyclists with prizes and includes multiple events. Intercity Transit is also co-sponsoring the 2010 Thurston Green Business Awards.
- RabbitTransit (York, PA) is distributing packets of seeds to customers, thanking them for using transit and celebrating Earth Day.
- Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (Glenwood Springs, CO) is hiding tickets for prizes in “earth eggs” on buses, at park and rides, and bus stops in addition to give-aways on the radio and through social networking sites.
- San Mateo County Transit District (San Carlos, CA) will give out premium pass holders to passengers during the morning commute.
- South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (Pompano Beach, FL) is sponsoring a green-themed adult spelling bee on April 17 at the Galleria Mall and participating in its Green Fair. Additionally, a popular local radio celebrity will be on board Tri-Rail to present “Cash Train,” offering randomly selected riders the chance to win money and other great prizes by answering trivia questions related to going green.
Finally, numerous transit agencies are either sponsors of local Earth Day events or participating in an Earth Day event by offering information about transit and its benefits to the environment. Some additional agencies participating in Earth Day events include:
- Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (Ann Arbor, MI) will participating in two community Earth Day events.
- Butler Transit Authority (Butler, PA) is encouraging people to ride public transit as well as highlighting the green efforts BTA is taking, including the construction of a new new LEED certified transit center.
- Dallas Area Rapid Transit (Dallas, TX) is supporting a number of regional Earth Day initiatives. Since many of the events are located on or near DART rail lines, participants are being encouraged to travel to the events by using DART.
- Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation (Indianapolis, IN) will display one of its hybrid buses at the Earth Day Indiana Festival.
- Intercity Transit (Olympia, WA) is participating in transit fairs at area work sites and hosting nine transit education events for youth including: bike rodeos, bus/bike/walk safety training, transit fairs and an “undriving certification” activity.
- Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (Kansas City, MO) is sponsoring an art and poetry contest using the theme “Every Day Is Earth Day.”
- Laketran (Painesville, OH) is partnering with Lakeland Community College Student Government for a two-day event geared to raising student awareness about the benefits of transit and sustainable lifestyle choices.
- Metro (Cincinnati, OH) Metro will be a part of two events to celebrate Earth Day at the Cincinnati Zoo. On April 22, Metro is hosting a booth with information about Metro’s services and green initiatives at the Zoo’s Tunes and Booms “Go Green” Night. Metro will provide another booth at the Zoo’s continuing Earth Day celebration on April 24.
- Metro (Saint Louis, MO) is participating in the St. Louis Earth Day Festival and will exhibit a MetroBus.
- Metropolitan Transit Authority and Regional Transportation Authority (Nashville, TN) are hosting booths at the Nashville Earth Day Festival, and will display a new 40-foot hybrid Music City Circuit bus.
- Port Authority of Allegheny County (Pittsburgh, PA) is participating in a number of green events this year, including the Blue, Gold & Green festival at the University of Pittsburgh and a hybrid bus appearance at a Pirates baseball game on Earth Day.
- San Joaquin Regional Transit District (Stockton, CA) is joining the California Department of Transportation and San Joaquin Council of Government’s Commute Connection in hosting booths at the San Joaquin Delta College Earth Day event.
- Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (San Jose, CA) is hosting an Earth Day Fair that will have informational tables, interactive displays and demonstrations from VTA employees and other community organizations.
- Transit Authority of River City (Louisville, KY) is hosting transit fairs at three Humana work locations, inspiring new riders to try transit on Earth Day.
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The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of nearly 1,500 public and private member organizations, engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne passenger services, and high-speed rail. This includes: transit systems; planning, design, construction, and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; transit associations and state departments of transportation. More than 90 percent of the people using public transportation in the United States and Canada are served by APTA member systems.