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American Public Transportation Association

 Transit News



Virginia Miller

 Public Transportation Industry Is a Green Industry Living Earth Day Every Day

 40.4% of U.S. Public Transit Buses Use Alternative Fuels or Hybrid Technology

Environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient are two ways to describe the public transportation industry.  Every year, 37 million metric tons of carbon emissions and 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline are saved due to use of public transportation use in the United States.  People can check out their individual carbon savings by going to the following link 

“Whether it be environmentally efficient transit buses or solar powered buildings and bus shelters, public transportation is a leader in sustainability,” said American Public Transportation Association (APTA) President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “Many public transportation agencies and businesses know that sustainability not only helps the air quality of a community, but also pays off in cost savings.  It’s a good business practice.”

APTA’s latest research shows that, 40.4 percent of U.S. public transportation buses were using alternative fuels or hybrid technology as of January 1, 2013.  This is in striking contrast to the 1.7 percent of automobiles using alternative-fuels in 2012.  If you add in flex-fuel automobiles, the percent for automobiles is 3.4 percent, according to the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Annual Outlook.

APTA statistics for early 2013 show that 20 percent of U.S. transit buses used compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG) and blends.  13.2 percent of public transit buses were hybrid-electric, and 7.0 percent of public transit buses used biodiesel.  Other alternative fuels, such as propane and hydrogen, account for 0.2 percent.

“Transit is an important part of growing healthy, vibrant communities,” said APTA Chair Peter Varga.  “People that care about their communities, particularly younger people, understand this connection and see the value good public transportation brings.  Environmental stewardship and using our resources wisely is what public transportation is all about.”

Listed below are examples of the diversity of bus fleets across the country in small, mid-sized, and large systems.  This list, which also includes other environmentally-friendly technologies and practices, is a sampling of what is happening at public transit systems across the country. 

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Buses

Atlanta, GA – Metropolitan Atlanta Regional Transportation Authority’s (MARTA) 411 CNG buses displaced more than 7 million gasoline gallons equivalent of petroleum a year.

Dallas, TX – Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s (DART) new fleet of CNG 40-foot buses began service on January 28, 2013 and will replace the agency’s mix of diesel and liquefied natural gas buses by 2015.  The agency’s annual fuel costs will be cut by nearly two-thirds by the end of 2015.  DART is putting approximately five new buses into service every week to replace the existing fleet.

Los Angeles, CA – LA Metro operates the largest CNG fleet in the U.S. with 2,200  CNG vehicles.  LA Metro also buys 15% of all transit buses in the United States. 

South Bend, IN – South Bend Public Transportation Corporation will begin  converting the fixed route fleet to CNG later this year with the arrival of 16 new buses to  replace aging vehicles.

State College, PA – Centre Area Transportation Authority’s entire fleet runs on CNG.  It was the first transit agency on the East Coast to convert its entire diesel fleet to one that operates entirely on alternative fuel.

Tampa, FL – Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) will be the first in Florida to have CNG vehicles.  The HART CNG Fueling Facility will open on April 24.  By the end of April HART will have 28 CNG vans and the CNG buses will arrive next spring (2015).

Hybrid-Electric Buses
Ann Arbor, MI - Ann Arbor Transportation Authority has 52 hybrid-electric buses in service, bringing the fleet to 65 percentage hybrid - - the highest percentage of operating hybrid-electric in the Midwest and one of the highest in the nation. Introducing hybrid-electric buses into the fleet has reduced diesel fuel consumption and expense.  So far this strategy has saved taxpayers over $1.65 million in fuel costs, and has reduced the fleet’s fuel consumption by 30% (more than 100,000 gallons).

Cincinnati, OH – Cincinnati Metro’s bus fleet includes 78 new “mini-hybrid” buses and 27 hybrid buses. The “mini-hybrid” buses use thermal cooling technology to provide improved fuel economy and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Greensboro, NC – Greensboro Transit Authority currently has nine gasoline-electric hybrid paratransit vehicles and recently placed into service gasoline-electric hybrid paratransit buses.

Spokane, WA – Spokane Transit Authority (STA) integrated the first hybrid diesel-electric buses into its fleet in 2007, that number has now grown to 28. STA’s hybrid-electric buses have 17% better fuel economy than standard diesel buses and produce 17% less emissions.

Urbana, IL - Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District operates 55 diesel-electric hybrid buses that account for 54% of its fleet.

All Electric Buses
Reno, NV – Regional Transportation Commission
received 4 new battery-electric buses, the first in the state of Nevada, on April 14.

Los Angeles, CA – LA Metro purchased 25 new all-electric buses, expected to arrive later this year. Following an initial evaluation and testing period, Metro plans to initiate new procurements for additional “next generation” zero-emission and super low emission buses based on technology developments anticipated within the next one to three years.

West Covina, CA – Foothill Transit is operating an all electric bus that is charged at a docking station mid-route in under 10 minutes, allowing for continuous, environmentally beneficial transit service along one of the busiest routes. 

Biodiesel and Propane Buses
Peoria, IL - Greater Peoria Mass Transit District’s
bus fleet runs on B20 Biodiesel, which is partially made of soybean oil, improves air quality and cuts reliance on foreign oil. 
Flint, MI – Mass Transportation Authority has 72 propane paratransit vehicles.

Listed below are a sampling of other green activities at public transportation systems that improve the environment:

Oakland, CA – Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)
trains are the lightest mass transit rails cars in the world in relation to their length. The design of the cars reduces energy consumption.  Also, BART trains convert their kinetic energy of motion into electrical energy as the trains slow down. The energy regenerated during the process is returned to the power distribution system where it is then used by other trains.

Pompano Beach, FL – Tri-Rail’s fleet runs on 99% biodiesel when it is available, but never less than 80%.  Due to the temperate climate, Tri-Rail is one of the few systems in the country that is able to use biodiesel year round.

St. Paul, MN – Metro Transit Transit is offsetting 100 percent of the electricity used for the METRO light-rail system and support facilities on April 22 through Xcel Energy’s Windsource program.

LEED Status Buildings
Ann Arbor, MI - Ann Arbor Transportation Authority
opened a new, LEED Gold transit facility on March 17.  The new Blake Transit Center was designed to achieve LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council due to its many sustainable and energy-saving design elements.  The structure’s environmentally friendly features include a snowmelt system that reduces the use of salt, and a roof storm water collection system that is used for ‘gray water’ use, such as flushing toilets. 

Des Moines, IA – Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority’s Central Station, which opened in November 2012, has been certified LEED Platinum, the highest certification of the LEED rating system of the U.S. Green Building Council.  Highlights include a 60% total energy cost savings and 1.2 million gallons of rainwater that have been captured, cleaned and reused for tasks such as washing bus platforms.

Grand Rapids, MI – The Rapid now has two LEED certified buildings as part of its campus.  Rapid Central Station was the first LEED-certified transit facility in the country when it opened in 2004.  In early 2012, The Rapid opened its renovated and expanded Rapid Operations Center, which received a Gold LEED rating.  Each building boasts a number of features to improve its energy efficiency and reduce waste.

Greensboro, NC – Greensboro Transit Authority received LEED Gold designation to the new Operations and Maintenance Facility & Administrative Offices. The 66,000 sq. ft. facility features such energy-saving features as LED lighting, solar water heating, water-reducing restrooms and the city’s first vegetative roof.

Olympia, WA – Intercity Transit is currently expanding its primary transit center to accommodate transit demand, add bus bays and customer amenities, and provide public meeting and employee office space. The facility will be a minimum of LEED silver status and is anticipated to be complete late next year.

South Bend, IN – South Bend Public Transportation Corporation operates in a LEED Platinum facility that opened in 2010 and continue to expand its environmentally-friendly initiatives.

ISO Certification
Urbana, IL – Champaign Urbana Mass Transit District (CUMTD)
 received ISO 14001:2004 certification for the Maintenance Department’s Environmental and Sustainability Management System (ESMS) in September 2013. CUMTD was the first transit system in Illinois and the sixth in the country to receive this certification.

Olympia, WA – Intercity Transit has just received ISO 14001 certification for its significant environmental and sustainability efforts. The agency is the ninth – and smallest – transit system in the nation to garner this arduous certification.

Lewisville, TX – Denton County Transportation Authority
celebrated the opening of its newly constructed bus operations and maintenance facility in February 2014.  Built with sustainable design features such as high-efficiency lighting fixtures, its location has also led to a savings of almost 20,000 gallons of fuel and eliminates 217 tons of CO2 emissions annually through more efficient routing of vehicles.

St. Paul, MN – Metro Transit’s new METRO Green Line Operations and Maintenance Facility was designed and constructed using practical sustainable principles and is now in operation as light-rail systems and rail operators are tested and trained on the METRO Green Line.

Atlanta, GA – Metropolitan Atlanta Regional Transportation Authority’s
Laredo Bus Facility in Decatur, GA has a solar array of 4,888 energy-efficient solar panels.  This installation generates over 1.2MW of green power.  It improves the energy efficiency of the operations and cuts fuel consumption and emissions.

Monterey, CA – Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST)
has installed five solar powered signs in South County cities that will use GPS technology to provide the actual real-time bus arrivals for Lines 23 Salinas – King City and 82 Fort Hunter Liggett – Salinas Express.

Olympia, WA – Intercity Transit continues the installation of solar lighting in many of its bus shelters.

Phoenix, AZ – Valley Metro’s installation of a solar plant capable of generating 780 kW of energy annually while reducing greenhouse gas emissions is scheduled to open at the Valley Metro light rail operations and maintenance facility in Phoenix in late 2014. It is estimated that the agency will save approximately 16 percent ($100,000 average per year) of the energy consumption at the facility where light rail vehicles are serviced

Urbana, IL – Champaign Urbana Mass Transit District recently installed a 296.94 kilowatt photovoltaic system on its Maintenance Facility with 1,212 solar panels covering the roof of the Maintenance Facility. The solar array is expected to generate enough energy to replace about 25% of this building’s annual energy consumption and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 270 tons of carbon dioxide equivalents per year. 

West Covina, CA – Foothill Transit has operations and maintenance yards in Arcadia and Pomona, both of which have full solar panels on the roofs of the two buildings – and they are not only saving energy and money for Foothill Transit, but providing additional energy for everyone else.  The solar panels on the two buildings combined have generated more than 800,000 kilowatt hours. The same amount of energy is equivalent to more than 15,000 trees saved, 600-plus tons of carbon dioxide saved, or more than 68,000 gallons of gasoline saved.

Water Reclamation
Atlanta, GA – Metropolitan Atlanta Regional Transportation Authority uses at least 200 gallons of water to wash a single bus and 1500 gallons to wash a six car train while reclaiming up to 90% of the water.

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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.



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