Recommended Practice

Transit Sustainability Guidelines

Framework for Approaching Sustainability and Overview of Best Practices


This Recommended Practice introduces guidelines for designing and operating sustainable transit that both reduces a community’s environmental footprint from transportation and enhances its quality of life by making travel more enjoyable, affordable and timely.

Document History
Document Number Version Publication Date Publication Related Information
APTA-SUDS-CC-RP-004-11 Original 03/11/2011 Published Current


Alignment, ambient environment, art, crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED), emissions, energy, Environmental Management System, facility, green building, infrastructure, land use, lifecycle cost, livable neighborhood, noise and vibration, optimization, public health, , resource efficient, sustainability, transit vehicle, wayfinding, waste management.


Designing and operating sustainable transit requires a new way of thinking. For the transit industry to achieve true sustainability, it must take a holistic approach toward what a transit agency can and should contribute. Improving transit systems’ performance and integrating transit with community development is more vital to sustainability than simply reducing the environmental footprint of agency facilities. A transit system can consist of the greenest of earth-friendly, energy-efficient facilities and fleet, but it does little good if it is not used. An empty bus cannot be a sustainable bus. If transit doesn’t succeed in integrating with and serving the community, it can be an environmental and economic burden and even a scar on the landscape. These guidelines cover a wide spectrum of sustainability with regard to transit.

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