Public Transportation is a Green Industry and Going Greener
Saves 37 million metric tons of carbon emissions annually and helps Americans save on the high price of gas
From using wind turbines to power bus facilities, installing the largest solar canopy installation in Georgia, and utilizing environmentally-friendly bus and rail vehicles, the U.S. public transportation industry is committed to using green technologies to further reduce carbon emissions, improve air quality, and help our country reach energy independence. Currently, public transportation in the U.S. saves 37 million metric tons of carbon emissions and 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline. A carbon savings calculator is available on www.publictransportation.org.
“Every day is Earth Day for the tens of millions of Americans who use public transportation. Riders not only help the environment, but save money and beat the high cost of gas. They get a two-fer,” said American Public Transportation Association President William Millar. “Public transit could play an even larger role, but unfortunately, only 54 percent of the households in the United States have access to public transportation. The United States must expand public transportation to take full advantage of its environmental and economic benefits.”
Public transportation agencies across the country are joining in the 41st Earth Day celebration with a variety of green initiatives and activities aimed at raising awareness and improving the environment. Listed below are just a few green activities at public transporation systems that improve the environment:
- Atlanta, GA – Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority has recently started to install a new federally funded solar canopy installation at a bus garage. This will be the largest solar canopy installation in Georgia and the second largest in the country and will significantly off-set power usage at this facility.
- Lafayette, IN – CityBus broke ground on a wind turbine project on April 21. The $2.18 million project will power CityBus facilities with renewable wind energy and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
- Minneapolis, MN – Metro Transit runs its Hiawatha light rail line on a a 20 percent blend of renewable sources such as hydropower, wind and biomass.
- Olympia, WA – Intercity Transit continues enhancement of its bus stops with installation of solar lights in bus shelters. Additionally, The Federal Transit Administration selected Intercity Transit to participate in a two-year training and assistance program to implement Environmental Sustainability Management Systems.
- Seattle, WA – King County Department of Transportation is acquiring 25 all-electric vehicles in 2011, of which King County Metro Transit will pay for 20 of these vehicles to integrate into its Vanpool and Vanshare programs. In addition, Metro is working with private employers and looking at publically owned facilities to install approximately 70 charging stations, 54 of which will be available for public use. Metro is expecting to help reduce vehicle emissions by approximately 53 metric tons of carbon per year through this effort.
- Seattle, WA – Sound Transit incorporates extensive salvage and recycling goals in all major capital projects. Contractors have recycled or salvaged more than 1 million tons of materials while clearing and excavating the University of Washington and Capitol Hill station sites for the University Link light rail expansion. Contractors will be required to recycle a minimum of 75 percent of construction debris for their North Link light rail expansion.
As of 2010, hybrid buses, natural gas buses, and biodiesel fueled vehicles were common among public transit systems and made up nearly 34 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.
- Dallas, TX – Dallas Area Rapid Transit has recently finalized the purchase of up to 452 new natural gas-fueled buses.
- Eugene, OR – Lane Transit anticipates that later in the year, 50 percent of its bus fleet will be hybrid buses, thanks to the addition of 24 new hybrid buses.
- Indianapolis, IN - Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation is launching 11 new hybrid buses in April.
- Minneapolis, MN – Metro Transit added 30 more hybrid electric buses to its fleet in 2010, increasing the number of these clean, fuel efficient vehicles to 97.
- Olympia, WA – Intercity Transit is operating six hybrid biodiesel-electric coaches and seven more are due to begin service next year. Intercity Transit maintenance officials report a 25 percent increase in fuel economy with the hybrid buses over the past year.
- Seattle, WA – King County Department of Transportation will take delivery of 93 hybrid-powered 40’ coaches and an additional 86 articulated hybrid buses this year. By the end of 2011, Metro will have 541 hybrid-diesel electric buses, comprising 41 percent of Metro’s fleet. Metro’s current hybrid buses are demonstrating a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to the conventional diesel fleet.
Some public transportation systems are sponsoring free rides, giveaways, and drawings to thank riders:
- Atlanta, GA – Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority participated in an Earth Day Festival at a rail station the week prior to Earth Day. Customers and festival attendees enjoyed entertainment and giveaways while learning why taking transit is one of the best ways to protect our planet.
- Cleveland, OH - Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority provided free shuttle bus rides to an EarthFest event at the Cleveland Zoo on April 17. Also, people were given free admission to the zoo with proof of a RTA ride.
- Concord, CA - Central Contra Costa Transit Authority is co-sponsor of Commuter Appreciation Day with ClearChannel Broadcast Network. Traffic messages will encourage people to ride bus "Just One Day A Week". Bus ambassadors are handing out Commuter Appreciation bags, filled with goodies and literature.
- Des Moines, IA - Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority is encouraging the public to park their cars and ride the bus this Earth Day by offering free rides.
- Forth Worth, TX – Forth Worth Transportation Authority is hosting a Coca-Cola Earth Day event at its Intemodal Transportation Center on Earth Day for morning transit commuters. The Coca-Cola team is partnering with The T to distribute eco-friendly packaged bottled water, bamboo pens, and organic notebooks to transit riders.
- Milwaukee, WI - Milwaukee County Transit System and Miller/Coors teamed up to extend the Miller Lite Free Rides™ Program to celebrate as they celebrated Earth Day on April 21.
- Muncie, IN - Muncie Indiana Transit System is offering a free ride day on Earth Day as well as sponsoring its annual Earth Day Poster Contest for children.
- Normal, IL - Bloomington-Normal Public Transit System is offering free trips on all fixed routes on Earth Day.
- Oakland, CA – San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District is giving out free tickets for BART to 5,000 people at the Blue Sky Festival, which BART is hosting. This environmental festival is the culmination of a three week environmental campaign about the benefits of taking BART.
- Riverside, CA – Riverside Transit Authority is giving away free bus passes to selected customers who ride on Earth Day, April 22, or anytime the following week. Customers need to send their RTA passes showing they rode the bus between April 18 and 22 and they will be entered in the drawing for a free 30-Day pass.
- St. Louis, MO – Metro is offering a FREE all-day Metro pass to the first 2,000 riders to arrive at College Station for the Green Planet Blues Fest.
- Tampa, FL - Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority is offering free rides with a friend on Earth Day.
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:
- Albany, NY – Capital District Transportation Authority is joining a coalition of environmental groups, organizations, and city residents to kick off Albany’s Earth Day and draw attention to the issue of climate change, and how alternative transportation contributes to improved air quality. Later in the day at another event, CDTA Travel Trainers will be on hand to provide information and discuss environmental public transportation initiatives and sustainable options. A CDTA hybrid bus will be on display.
- Ann Arbor, MI - Ann Arbor Transportation Authority is participating in two Earth Day displays, one at the annual citywide Earth Day Festival and the other at a building complex.
- Burnsville, MN – Minnesota Valley Transit Authority is participating in an Earth Day event at a local high school. A bus will be on site with information about on how riding transit can help.
- Chicago, IL – Regional Transportation Authority leaders, RTA Chairman John S. Gates, Jr. and Executive Director Joe Costello, are participating in an Earth Day summit.
- Dallas, TX – Dallas Area Rapid Transit is participating in a number of Earth Day events underway in the cities that make up its service area. One of the activities is a "School Clean-Up Day," where DART joins other organizations in taking Earth Day to the schools and engages students in the Earth Day ethic by cleaning up their school.
- Indianapolis, IN - Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation is participating in Earth Day Indiana on April 23 and is showcasing one of its new hybrid buses.
- Johnstown, PA - Cambria County Transit Authority is sponsoring radio ads that promote going green by riding the bus. These ads are also promoting the hybrid bus and bike racks on buses.
- Olympia, WA – Intercity Transit is attending an Earth Day Fair at South Puget Sound Community College on Earth Day, April 22, and Sustainable Transportation Fair at the Olympia Farmers Market, April 22 and 23. The agency is highlighting its commuter, youth and bicycling programs, as well as provide one-on-one customized trip planning for transit travel, and promote its numerous pass programs. On April 23, community volunteers and staff will lead Intercity Transit's Earth Day Market Ride, a popular annual bicycling event in which individuals and families from across Thurston County cycle on group rides.
- Seattle, WA – King County Department of Transportation is participating in King County's 8th Annual Earth Day celebration on Friday, April 22. The Expo is featuring educational opportunities for people who want to learn more about green commuting. Metro staff will be on hand to talk about the many transportation options Metro offers.
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The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of 1,500 public and private sector organizations, engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne services, and intercity and high-speed passenger rail. This includes: transit systems; planning, design, construction, and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; transit associations and state departments of transportation. APTA is the only association in North America that represents all modes of public transportation. APTA members serve the public interest by providing safe, efficient and economical transit services and products. More than 90 percent of the people using public transportation in the United States and Canada ride APTA member systems.