August 3, 2009
In this weeks Classifieds, you'll find:
6 DBE opportunities
Foothill Transit Reports Success with Sustainability
Special to Passenger Transport
Leading the Way
Foothill Transit in West Covina, CA, is a leader in the movement toward sustainable transportation.
Public transit agencies facing such issues as global warming, population growth, traffic congestion, and an increasing dependence on nonrenewable sources of energy must address them with new policies now before they become insurmountable. As one of the largest public bus operators in Los Angeles County, Foothill Transit has mounted a comprehensive environmental protection plan, taking major steps to ensure that we are doing our part to preserve the planet.
The agency models cutting edge, green business practices because its member communities, county, and the wider world demand it.
“The Foothill Transit administrative office was designed to minimize the energy, paper, and water waste usually associated with office buildings,” said Doran Barnes, the agency’s executive director. “We paid attention to both big-ticket items and small details to maximize the impact of our efforts and to make sure no stone was left unturned. Additionally, we are registered with The Climate Registry, a nonprofit organization that collects greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions information to influence environmental public policy.”
The agency has equipped all four floors of its office space with motion sensor lighting to reduce unnecessary usage and thermostats programmed to reach limited temperatures and shut down during “off” hours. To augment those energy savings, Foothill Transit is in the process of replacing the building’s 40-year-old glass windows with double-paned glazed windows to reduce heat and improve energy performance; the old window glass will be recycled as part of our environmentally friendly procurement requirements.
Foothill Transit also recycles all paper, plastic, and cans in a unique partnership with the San Gabriel Valley Conservation Corps which, in turn, uses the money collected from the recycled materials to benefit disadvantaged youth.
To lessen our impact on water supplies in an area prone to drought, we installed special low-flow toilets and are currently planning the installation of special water-saving faucets.
Traffic congestion in Los Angeles County is an unavoidable fact of life, contributing to safety problems and polluting our region’s air. To help mitigate this impact, 262 of Foothill Transit’s coaches, or 83 percent, run on compressed natural gas (CNG) instead of diesel, which eliminates the equivalent of 10.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year. The agency’s goal is to have a 100 percent CNG-powered fleet by 2011. Our non-revenue vehicles are also hybrid and CNG models.
“The demands placed on us and our region to improve air quality are challenges we can’t afford to ignore,” said Barnes. “Foothill Transit’s focus on sustainability covers everything from how we do business at the office to how we provide service on the street. CNG is just a beginning.”
The entire fleet is maintained using synthetic lubricants and South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD)-approved parts and washers. In addition, all coaches are equipped with 15-minute automatic shutdown capabilities during idle time on the road. Recently, the fleet has eliminated the need for paper passes and transfers with the installation of new SmartCard-compatible fareboxes.
Operations and Maintenance Facilities
The agency’s two operations and maintenance facilities employ cutting-edge, green technology. The bus wash currently uses 70 percent recycled water and will soon be replaced with a 100 percent recycled-water model. The Arcadia Operations Yard already uses solar energy for its on-site cameras, and both facilities will soon have solar panels installed to supplement current power sources with clean, renewable energy.
A recent upgrade to the Pomona Operations Yard includes the installation of renewable bamboo floors in the training room. The yard also will make use of the dual flush toilet system, lowering water usage.
At both facilities, the maintenance departments participate in full-scale recycling programs including toner, batteries, plastic, metal, waste oil, glass, cardboard, light bulbs, tires, and wood.
We are also excited to announce the recent installation of a new fluorescent lighting system in the Pomona facility, leading to a realization of more than $1,000 per month in energy savings.
Electric Bus Demonstration Project
Foothill Transit plans to launch its visionary Electric Bus Demonstration Project in 2010. This lightweight, all-electric bus will employ a Lithium Ion battery, charged en route at special docking stations by renewable sources of energy such as hydroelectric, solar, wind, or tidal.
This project is envisioned as an air quality model as it fully complies with stringent SCAQMD regional regulations and California Air Resources Board (CARB) Zero Emissions Bus purchase rules, set to be implemented in 2012. We have committed over $5 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to develop this prototype, which will have an impact well beyond our region.
“Recent rapid advancement in battery and vehicle technology has made this leading edge project possible,” said Barnes. “The challenges that we face with our environment demand that we expand beyond what’s available into what’s possible. This is the time and place for possibility. “
Our recycling programs, fleet, and finally our Electric Bus Demonstration Project are all important steps in the move toward global sustainability. With 41 percent of current carbon dioxide emissions stemming directly from transportation, Foothill Transit knows that the time to act is now—and we are paving the way!