The principles of sustainability have been gaining ground in the public transportation industry. Sustainability, at its core, is a way to make our communities more livable by integrating and balancing economic, social and environmental needs.

What is Sustainability?

Sustainability is about practices that make good business sense and good environmental sense. It is balancing the economic, social and environmental needs of a community. For the public transportation industry, this includes:

  • Employing practices in design and capital construction, such as using sustainable building materials, recycled materials, and solar and other renewable energy sources to make facilities as ‘green’ as possible.
  • Employing practices in operations and maintenance such as reducing hazardous waste, increasing fuel efficiency, creating more efficient lighting and using energy-efficient propulsion systems.
  • Employing community-based strategies to encourage land use and transit-oriented development designed that increase public transit ridership.

Sustainability Components

Commitment (Current Signatories)
APTA members who sign on commit to a core set of actions on sustainability. APTA members can also obtain further recognition for their actions by signing on to the higher levels of the commitment. The core principles of the commitment are:

  • Making sustainability a part of your organization’s strategic objectives
  • Identifying a sustainability champion within the organization coupled with the proper human and/or financial resources and mandates
  • Establishing an outreach program (awareness-raising and education) on sustainability for all staff of your organization
  • Undertaking a sustainability inventory of your organization.

Recommended Practices and Related Documents
View the collection of recommended practices and related documents developed by the APTA Sustainability and Urban Design Standards working groups. APTA members are encouraged to use the following Transit Emissions Quanitifier Tool in identifying criteria air pollutant emissions, greenhouse gas emissions and greenhouse gas savings for their own sustainability inventories​:

APTA’s Sustainability & Multimodal Planning Workshop, held each year in late July or early August, features cutting-edge speakers and breakout groups presenting environmentally/energy efficient, economically sound and socially responsible developments and practices to advance public transportation’s role in sustainability. To learn more information about this and previous workshops, please visit the Workshop website​.

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