Passenger Transport - August 3, 2009
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Senate Appropriations Committee Approves FY 2010 THUD Bill

On July 30, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted by a 30-0 margin to approve the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies (THUD) appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2010.  The bill includes $11.1 billion for Federal Transit Administration (FTA) programs—a funding level more than $750 million higher than the $10.33 billion in the president’s budget request.

The bill also includes:

* $480 million more for New Starts than the $1.827 billion requested in the president’s budget and the House-approved funding level. It also is an increase of $500 million above FY 2009 levels;
* $150 million authorized for grants to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority; and
* $100 million for transit energy efficiency grants, similar to those in the Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction program funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

In addition to the increased funding for FTA, the bill includes:
*  $1.1 billion for grants to support multimodal transportation projects, including public transportation, highways, bridges, passenger and freight rail, and ports;
* $1.2 billion for intercity and high speed rail, building on the funds included in ARRA; the House bill had included a maximum of $4 billion;
* $1.5 billion for Amtrak;
* $50 million for grants to invest in railroad safety technology, including positive train control;
* $150 million for the Sustainable Communities Initiative in conjunction with the Department of Housing and Urban Development; and
* Federal Highway Administration programs receive $43.5 billion, including $1.4 billion in General Fund appropriations, versus $42 billion in the House bill.

The full Senate will take up this bill either next week (before the August recess) or when Congress reconvenes in September.

The full House approved the THUD appropriations bill on July 23.

DHS Announces $78 Million in ARRA Funds for Transit Security

On July 29, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano announced nearly $78 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Transit Security Grant Program (TSGP) funding for approximately 240 new law enforcement officers at 15 transit systems across the country.  In addition to hiring new officers, police departments with dedicated transit bureaus will also hire anti-terrorism personnel, purchase anti-terrorism equipment, and obtain and train explosive-detecting canines.  The following agencies will receive this funding:

AMTRAK ($6,343,500)
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) ($9,650,064)
Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) ($685,980)
Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) for Chicago Police Department ($4,869,000)
Northeast Illinois Commuter Railroad Corporation (Metra) ($1,670,988)
Metro Transit (Twin Cities) ($1,328,700)
Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) ($2,234,070)
New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (for NYPD) ($35,904,000)
The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) ($1,396,830)
Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) ($2,085,000)
Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) ($4,458,870)
Puerto Rico Department of Transportation & Public Works ($965,193)
Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) ($1,362,690)
Houston Metro ($3,040,560)
King County Department of Transportation ($1,906,530)

Seattle Hails Long-Awaited Central Link Light Rail

The Seattle region waited 40 years for the event that occurred July 18: the opening of Sound Transit’s new Central Link light rail line. More than 92,000 passengers rode free during the first weekend of service, approximately 45,000 of them on opening day.

“Today I’m excited to say that Sound Transit went from being that ‘Little Engine That Could’ to a promising new ‘Economic Engine’ for our entire region,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) said during ribbon-cutting ceremonies on the plaza at Mount Baker Station, in Seattle’s Rainier Valley neighborhood. Murray chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, a longtime supporter of light rail and chair of the Sound Transit Board of Directors, joined Sound Transit Chief Executive Officer Joni Earl and Murray at the launch.

“We are thrilled with the way this region has embraced the opening of Link light rail,” Earl said. “The years of planning and construction are paying off for thousands of riders every day.”

“The crowds at light rail stations throughout the weekend showed the excitement people feel as we have become a light rail region,” Nickels said. “That excitement about our mass transit future will only grow,” he said, “as we continue to build and expand on the light rail system.”

In addition to free rides throughout the weekend, all stations on the 14-mile light rail line showcased live musical entertainment and food from nearby restaurants and stores. The Transportation Choices Coalition, a citizen advocacy group, celebrated the opening with a black-tie event.

The introduction of light rail to Seattle means an exponential increase in intermodal connections. Link riders can “link” from mode to mode with ease, transferring to buses and trolleybuses, Sounder commuter rail, ferries, the Seattle Monorail, and the South Lake Union Streetcar.

Part of the geographical challenge for constructing light rail in the region is that Seattle is located on an isthmus, a stretch of land with water on both sides, where mobility can be difficult. Twenty years ago, however, transportation planners were looking ahead, constructing the downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel with an eye to both light rail and buses. With the arrival of light rail, four of the 12 Link stations—Westlake, University Street, Pioneer Square, and International District/Chinatown—are located in the tunnel. The 14-mile line also includes at-grade and elevated segments, rising to a height of 80 feet above ground at the Tukwila International Boulevard Station.

The next step is already underway. While currently the line ends at Tukwila International Boulevard and airport-bound passengers have to transfer to a bus shuttle, Link will open its Airport Link extension, with direct access to SeaTac Airport, in December.

The line operates with Kinkisharyo vehicles that can transport 200 passengers per car, 74 seated. Sound Transit estimates 21,000 average weekday boardings on Central Link by the end of 2009, increasing to 26,600 average weekday boardings in 2010 following the opening of the Airport Link extension.

The opening kicked off service on the first of what will ultimately be 55 miles of light rail service in the central Puget Sound region stretching from Seattle to Lynnwood, Bellevue, Redmond, Mercer Island, and Federal Way by 2023. Construction recently began on a light rail line connecting downtown Seattle with the University of Washington, scheduled to enter service in 2016.

‘Moving Cooler’: Bundling Strategies Works Best

By JOHN R. BELL, Program Manager-Communications

A groundbreaking report on how the United States can move toward a more sustainable transportation strategy was introduced by several members of Congress and representatives of nonprofit organizations at a July 28 event in Washington, DC, attended by more than 200 people.

Moving Cooler: An Analysis of Transportation Strategies for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions shows that an expansion of public transportation, coordinated with combining travel activity, land-use development, road pricing, and operational efficiencies, can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) levels by 24 percent. It estimates that the annual savings in vehicle costs to consumers would exceed the cost of enacting these strategies by as much as $112 billion.

In addition, the report finds that, from 1996 to 2006, growth in U.S. transportation GHG emissions accounted for nearly half the increase in total such emissions. Therefore, reducing the transportation sector’s GHG emissions is key to reducing those of the nation. The research, conducted by Cambridge Systematics, analyzed strategies and their impact through 2050.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) embraced the report’s findings, saying he was “very excited about what you have done to set the stage” for a greener transportation sector. He mentioned the climate change bill that the House recently passed as an opportunity to make greater investments in public transit, adding: “I hope that the Senate goes far beyond what the House did, and there seems to be some indication” that this may happen. The House narrowly approved the bill to contain GHG emissions, which has moved to the Senate for its consideration.

Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari emphasized that no one “magic bullet” exists for the transportation sector to solve climate change. "There is no single strategy that can be pursued to help us turn our corner,” he said. “We need to look at a number of options.”

“This particular study really gives us what we need more than anything else—and that is the hard facts,” said Peter Rogoff, administrator of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). He said the report gives “not just options, but also bundles of options,” which would have a “multiplier effect” when used together. For instance, he talked about how enhanced public transportation, combined with smart growth, will provide greater access for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Rogoff cited the federal Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) program as an example of how public transportation systems have eagerly embraced their role in addressing climate change.

Also at the event, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-MN) called for immediate passage of the new transportation authorization legislation, citing an APTA white paper finding that a 10 percent mode shift from automobiles to public transit would eliminate the equivalent of all oil the U.S. currently imports from Saudi Arabia—550 million barrels per year.

“An integrated, multi-strategy approach would make the right moves, make the right choices, and move us in the right directions,” Oberstar said. “You’ve come along at the right time, with the right message, with the right initiative. Let’s move,” he said, “and let’s move cooler.”

Moving Cooler provides a good database from which to start in building America’s future transportation system, said APTA President William Millar. “This study confirms that to be effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, we must move beyond thinking about individual modes,” said Millar. “With comprehensive and systematic changes in how we approach transportation and land use, public transit and other strategies can play a significant role in addressing climate change. It is time for all of us in the transportation industry to do our part.”

In responding to a question about public transit’s ability to thrive only in traditional Northeastern enclaves, Millar noted that there is no area of the nation where public transit cannot flourish. “Dallas is underway with the biggest light rail project in the nation,” he said, “and 15 years ago people didn’t think Texans would take public transit.” The same has been true of Denver and Salt Lake City, he said—both of which have thriving, expanding public transit systems.

Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) also spoke and urged stronger action on climate change.

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Executive Director Peter Lehner said the report “shows that we can align our transportation, climate, and energy policies to reduce oil consumption, cut heat-trapping pollution, and increase savings for consumers.”

The report was sponsored by APTA, the Urban Land Institute, FTA, Federal Highway Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, NRDC, Shell Oil Company, Rockefeller Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Surdna Foundation, Kresge Foundation, Intelligent Transportation Society of America, and Environmental Defense Fund.

A presentation of the report will be made Aug. 4 in Salt Lake City as part of APTA’s Sustainability Workshop.

Mineta Honored for a Lifetime of Disability Advocacy

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the U.S. International Council on Disabilities, and APTA honored former Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta for his lifelong commitment to accessibility and disability rights at a July 26 event in Washington, DC. The event also commemorated the 19th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

In his remarks, Mineta spoke about the inspiration he has found from numerous disability rights advocates, including his promise to a couple with disabilities that he would spend his first week as mayor of San Jose, CA, in a wheelchair—an experience that affected him significantly by “embedding permanently what people go through with the inability to do just ordinary things.” This led him to taking responsibility for the transportation piece of ADA and becoming a leader in transportation accessibility.

Kareem Dale, President Barack Obama’s special assistant for disability policy, announced that the president would sign the CRPD in the coming week, in the hope that U.S. involvement in this movement will propel other countries to sign as well.

Michael Winter, FTA associate administrator for budget and policy, offered a look back on how the ADA has transformed America.

APTA President William Millar introduced Rep. James L. Oberstar (D-MN), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T&I), by saying: “We’re here to honor a great man in Norm Mineta. We were thinking of who could introduce him, who knows him very well, who has been through the struggles and fights in Congress, and we immediately settled on Cong. Oberstar. There wouldn’t be language in the transportation law about access if it were not for Jim and his committee.” During Mineta’s tenure in the House, he and Oberstar served together on the predecessor committee to T&I.

Oberstar called Mineta the “driving force behind the transition from the interstate highway era to a new era of transportation that is inclusive, interconnected, and intermodal.” Mineta insisted, said Oberstar, that “we put an emphasis on mobility not just where the roadway takes you, but how we get there. If mobility is going to mean anything, Norm would say, transportation has to be accessible to all.”

APTA Intern Chelsea Wright contributed to this story.

Sun Metro Breaks Ground at Two Facilities

Sun Metro in El Paso, TX, broke ground in July for the future Glory Road Transfer Center and Parking Garage and the Mission Valley Transfer Center, both scheduled for completion in 2010.

The facilities each will contain enclosed waiting areas with real-time information displays, restroom facilities, water fountains, ticket vending machines, and other amenities including free Wi-Fi.

The new seven-story Glory Road facility, serving the University of Texas at El Paso and Kern Place, will include a parking garage with more than 440 spaces. The estimated budget for the center and garage is about $11 million, funded primarily through an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant.

The $4.4 million Mission Valley Transfer Center project includes restoration of the landmark Lowenstein building, which dates to 1873 and is being considered for the National Register of Historic Places. The city also is seeking the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Level certification for the new facility.

Earlier in the year, the city broke ground for two other Sun Metro facilities. The Downtown Transfer Center will open in the fall, and the Westside Transfer Center is scheduled for completion early next year.

AATA Names Ford as CEO

The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (AATA) in Ann Arbor, MI, has named Michael G. Ford as its new chief executive officer, beginning July 20. Ford has more than 25 years of experience in both public and private transportation.

Before starting his own consulting firm in 2008, Ford was chief operating officer and assistant general manager of the San Joaquin Rapid Transit District in Stockton, CA. Earlier, he served as executive advisor to the general manager and director of transportation operations at Portland’s Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon and in several positions, including director of maintenance/operations, at Community Transit in Snohomish County, WA.

Senate Confirms Nominations

On Friday, July 24, the Senate confirmed the following nominations:

* Deborah A. P. Hersman of Virginia, to be a member of the National Transportation Safety Board for a term that expires Dec. 31, 2013, and to be its chairman for a two-year term;

* Daniel M. Tangherlini of the District of Columbia, to be an assistant secretary of the treasury, serving as the agency’s chief financial officer; and

* Polly Trottenberg of Maryland, to be an assistant secretary of transportation.

Sustainability: Is It Easy ‘Being Green’?

BY WILLIAM MILLAR, President, APTA

When I started to write this commentary, I thought I’d show how technologically savvy I am, so I Googled “sustainability”—and received over 30 million hits.

This issue is, clearly, on more than a few people’s minds!

So as I think about what sustainability means to public transportation, I find myself breaking it up into “internal” and “external” actions. Internal means the things we all can do to make our industry greener, such as alternative fuels for buses, solar power at our facilities, and recycled wash water. But then I think about how our industry’s efforts are having an external impact, such as public transit being integral to transit-oriented development.

Also, when I think about sustainability in the 21st century, I’m mindful of how far we’ve come in such a short time. It was 40 years ago that California experienced such bad air pollution that it developed and expanded public transit systems as part of the strategy to deal with it. And yet, while climate change is now a household phrase, it isn’t as if public transit jumped on the sustainability bandwagon yesterday. We’ve been working at this for a long time now.

For example, APTA became a signatory of the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) Charter on Sustainable Development in May 2003, at UITP’s 55th World Congress in Madrid. Any signatory to the charter acknowledges that the three principles of sustainable development—social, economic, and environmental—are embedded in its activities. Among the things we committed to do by signing on was to promote sustainability as an ideal concept and goal among our members.

To that end, in August 2005, APTA presented its first Sustainability and Public Transportation Workshop, and has held this workshop annually ever since.

Now, four years later, APTA instituted its own Sustainability Commitment—open to all APTA members—with signatories committing to take actions to improve the sustainability of their organizations. As of this writing, 30 APTA members have signed on, which is terrific, but let me use this forum to urge even more to join.

APTA also has its own “Green Team” that works every day to make our offices more sustainable—from eco-purchasing to more recycling—just a few small efforts that contribute to the larger one.

Our legislative team continues to make headway in gaining transit funding in the climate change bill, and of course we’re all working hard to make the case for public transportation in the surface transportation authorization bill.

Our sustainability standards work has led to a soon-to-be-released methodology for measuring the carbon emissions from public transit as well as transit sustainability guidelines.

And, hot off the presses, there’s Moving Cooler, a comprehensive environmental analysis conducted by Cambridge Systematics, and sponsored by one of the most diverse group of transportation interests gathered in recent years, including the Federal Transit Administration, Federal Highway Administration, Urban Land Institute, Shell Oil Company, Environmental Protection Agency, Natural Resources Defense Council, APTA, and others. The research found that the single most effective way to address the impact of transportation on climate change is not singular: public transit investment—coordinated with combining travel activity, land use development, road pricing, operational efficiencies, and other activities taken together—can reduce greenhouse gases by 24 percent.

So, this is just some of what APTA’s been up to—in-house or with its many partners. Now I want to take a moment to talk about the terrific sustainability efforts of some of our members.

New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Beginning in September 2007, a blue-ribbon Commission on Sustainability and the NY MTA examined energy/carbon; facilities; smart growth/transit-oriented development; materials flow; and water management and climate adaptation, issuing a final report in April 2009 containing nearly 100 recommendations. But the MTA was already engaged in numerous environment-saving activities even before the commission was formed, such as stimulating TOD and harnessing solar energy to power a subway station and tidal energy to power another, replacing signal lights with energy-efficient LEDs, installing aluminum third rail, improving fuel economy by inflating bus tires with nitrogen, and collecting rainwater to wash buses and trains, then recycling that water multiple times. From facilities to operations to their land-use component, NY MTA stands as a national model. This agency is truly leading the way.

Utah Transit Authority
UTA, our host for the Sustainability Workshop, has implemented an Environmental Management System (EMS) that provides a framework for managing the agency’s sustainable responsibilities by identifying harmful impacts from projects, services, and activities and finding ways to resolve them. What else is UTA doing? It’s realigning its entire set of green processes according to the ISO 14001 EMS standards. Once approved, UTA will be one of the few transit systems in the nation that is ISO 14001 accredited.

TriMet
As the saying goes, TriMet likes to keep it clean. In fact, there are a few “dirty” words they would like to remove from their vocabulary entirely: greenhouse gas, pollution, waste, inefficiency, and congestion. Under the direction of General Manager (and Workshop Chair) Fred Hansen, TriMet continues to demonstrate its leadership in advancing sustainability in the Portland region and the transit industry. TriMet’s recent innovations range from partnering with Engineered Machines Products Inc. to develop and demonstrate its EPA award-winning new engine cooling technology that reduces fuel consumption and improves operating efficiency to pioneering the use of a new material made from recycled tires in sound walls along the Green Line MAX light rail project opening in September, which will keep more than 9,000 tires from the landfill.

Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus
Santa Monica’s slogan? “Ride Blue, Go Green.” Its progressive action? As newer buses with state-of-the-art technology and cleaner-burning fuel have been produced, the Big Blue Bus has purchased them. Its fleet of 210 buses represents a range of bus innovation; 43 percent is fueled by Liquefied Natural Gas, which is 77 percent cleaner burning than diesel-fueled buses.

Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District
CUMTD has identified a range of sustainability-related action items it has taken or will soon undertake. These include lowering the price of annual bus passes to $60 from $235 to make access and mobility options more affordable; reducing water use by washing buses only when needed; beginning to use “Safe and Green” cleaning chemicals exclusively; making plans to purchase nine hybrid buses; recycling scrap metals, antifreeze, tin cans, cardboard, and paper; switching from incandescent to LED bulbs for exterior bus lights; and participating in a research project using diesel particulate filters to reduce this matter by 85 percent.

There are more examples, of course, including many of the projects to be discussed at our Sustainability Workshop.

So as you can see, public transportation takes you—to a cleaner environment, to a reduced dependence on foreign oil, to a decreased cost of living. Yes, indeed, public transportation takes you there.

Sustainable Actions, Green Results

By SUSAN R. PAISNER, Senior Managing Editor

Sustainable: Of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged; of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods.

“For too long,” President Barack Obama said recently, “federal policy has actually encouraged sprawl and congestion and pollution, rather than quality public transportation and smart, sustainable development.”

Transit professionals are hopeful that a reversal of such policy will appear in the next authorization bill. Recent legislative developments—such as new funding for public transportation through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA); climate change proposals that recommend dedicated funding for public transit; and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar’s (D-MN) authorization proposals—are just three examples of positive indicators that public policy is headed in the right direction. The public transportation industry is leading the charge: our industry has spent the last several years working on maintaining natural resources by embracing a range of sustainability efforts.

There’s no debate: green is the way to go.

Public transportation agencies throughout the U.S. are using their ARRA funds on numerous sustainability-related efforts. For example, in September the Red Rose Transit Authority in Lancaster, PA, will begin renovating its 30-year-old operations center—an $8 million project that includes a $5 million ARRA grant. These steps will include such green initiatives as a geothermal system for heating and cooling, a green roof, skylights, a waste oil burner to use in heating, and solar panels.

Also, several agencies are using ARRA grants to purchase hybrid-electric buses. These include the Torrance (CA) Transit System, which plans ultimately to replace its entire diesel bus fleet; Intercity Transit in Olympia, WA, which is using the funds for four hybrid buses to replace some of its oldest vehicles in service; Citibus in Lubbock, TX, which is purchasing three new hybrid buses and nine paratransit vans; and King County DOT in Seattle, which will replace 60 buses at the end of their useful life with new hybrids.

What follows is only a sample of the many projects and actions public transit professionals are involved in across the country, but these brief descriptions help provide an overview of the reach involved in seeking, implementing, and maintaining sustainability now and in the future.

Save Money Innovatively
If you want to save money on operations, look no further than Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) in San Jose, CA, and make sure you ask for Tom Fitzwater, environmental programs and resources management manager. In February 2008, the authority’s Board of Directors officially adopted its sustainability program. Since then, its cost-saving measures—while low-tech—are saving VTA substantial amounts of money.

In California, Pacific Gas and Electric performs free energy audits. When the utility focused on VTA’s light rail vehicles (LRVs), it found that maintenance workers could switch the auxiliary power off in parked LRVs at night when the vehicles weren’t being used. That discovery saves VTA $1,000 a day—what Fitzwater called “a relatively simple way to save an awful lot of money.”

When a nearby solar energy company, Skyline Solar, was looking for a site to run a pilot solar panel program, VTA volunteered a small portion of its busy yard to let Skyline test its new technology. In return, VTA receives all the free energy the panels generate. “This benefits everyone,” said Fitzwater, adding: “They get a site and we get free electricity—a partnership with a local industry at no cost to VTA.”

And then, there are VTA’s “green mowers”—goats and sheep that eat the grasses and non-native plants growing around the Cerone Division bus maintenance facility. Instead of spending approximately $39,000 a year on mowing and spraying, VTA saves $19,000 a year by contracting with a shepherd!

Plan and Design First
One of the most important actions facilities managers can take, according to Sound Transit Environmental Affairs and Sustainability Officer Perry Weinberg, is to focus at the front end on what works best for operations and maintenance. “We are now looking at revising and updating our design standards for facilities to incorporate sustainable features into them from the outset,” he said.

By way of example, when the Seattle area public transit agency was preparing for the next extension of its light rail system, “we did a comprehensive sustainability evaluation at the design stage, and were able to incorporate a number of sustainable elements into the projects,” Weinberg said. This included orienting excavation to reduce the amount of dirt displaced; installing energy-efficient lighting fixtures; designing landscaping with rain gardens, so the water infiltrates the ground instead of running off the impervious surfaces; and providing a financial incentive clause for contractors to find ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Streetcars Make a Comeback
Prior to the 1950s, Salt Lake City had a fairly extensive streetcar network, and the city is working now on “reactivating” it. According to Wilf Sommerkorn, director of the Salt Lake City Planning Division, after taking teams to look at the systems in Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver, BC, “everybody thinks that [streetcars] are the greatest thing since sliced bread.”

City and transit officials are looking at connecting two major activity centers in its downtown—Gateway on the west side and the new City Creek Center project in the middle—as well as running streetcars out to the suburbs. That, said Sommerkorn, might be a catalyst to build up the areas along the line.

Also, with the Utah Transit Authority’s (UTA) new TRAX light rail line under construction, his shop is currently in the planning stages for redeveloping that entire North Temple corridor into “a new, very much transit-oriented corridor, changing it from the car-oriented corridor it is now,” he said.

Transit Reduces Its Carbon Footprint
Use a reduction in carbon footprint as a key measurement of transit-oriented development (TOD) success, suggested Tim Baldwin, vice president, URS Corporation, and transit planning manager of the Denver office: “What I’ve seen in looking at alternative development scenarios in TODs and finding the one that maximizes carbon reduction is something we never even thought of five to 10 years ago.”

Baldwin talked about Cool Spots, a new planning tool from Portland’s Criterion Planners, 0which combines a number of different factors—including density, open space, street, and layout—to measure a development’s carbon footprint as compared to a traditional development style. “It’s really exciting the tools we have available these days,” he said.
 He added that when planning, development, and transit agencies work together, “that’s when you see a real difference in transit and development projects.”

Using Interactive GIS-Based Models for TOD
Imagine using an interactive model to create planning scenarios three-dimensionally that would show results to such questions as “If I do this with transit and this with planning, what would that do to the carbon footprint I’m creating?”

G.B. Arrington, co-chair of APTA’s Land Use and Economic Development Subcommittee and principal practice leader, PB’s PlaceMaking Group, Parsons Brinckerhoff, doesn’t have to imagine. He has been working on detailed plans and strategies to change the shopping center of Tysons Corner, VA, located just outside Washington, DC, from what he calls “a suburban apocalypse to arguably the largest TOD in America.” He sees how examining land use, governance, and transit designs can produce a development that is “green, affordable, has a mix of uses, and specifically ties where growth goes to where transit will be.”

Going Beyond Gold—To Platinum
On July 1, the South Bend Public Transportation Corporation (TRANSPO) in Indiana broke ground for its new operations, administration, and maintenance facility—a building on track to be one of the nation’s first LEED Platinum transit facilities.

What does “platinum” mean within this context? To reach the Platinum level, an organization must achieve 36 action items (an action item creates quantifiable goals for short- and medium-term—one to three years—plans in operation, maintenance and capital, products and services, and in education and outreach), plus six stretch goals (four-to-six-year programmatic and process goals that challenge the organization). Platinum members will also increase reduction targets, such as lessening water pollutant discharge and water use per vehicle mile, by a minimum of 20 percent over baseline and add three more stretch goals within a maximum of six years.

What steps will TRANSPO take?

The first, according to Merlin Maley, Associate AIA, LEED AP, RNL Corporation, was designing an energy-efficient building. Using ARRA funds allowed the installation of solar panels that will contribute about 2-1/2 percent of the total electric demand of the building each year.

“The other big piece of the project is the site design,” said Maley. “One example is how they will store 100 percent of the stormwater runoff on site, which means we’re not dumping hundreds of gallons a year into the storm sewer.” Instead, all the water is treated naturally by plants (oil, dirt, antifreeze) as it runs into a swale area. The clean water then goes into a detention pond where it will be used to restore habitat and create wetlands for migratory birds.

Another site design concerns lighting: many areas of the building will be able to keep the lights off or on dim during daylight hours because of the amount of daylight available. “We’re predicting that in the maintenance garage, they’ll need task [spotlight] lighting only during daylight hours,” he said, adding that the annual operating savings will be about $30,000 a year over a standard design building.

“Some measures are added costs, some are no cost,” he said, “but if you take everything and spread it out over 50 years—the lifespan of the building—and look not only at operating costs but the commitment to renewable energy and using less energy, the benefits become exponential for what we’re doing for the planet—and setting an example in responsible sustainable design.”

Rail Professionals Emphasize Commitment to Sustainability

Sustainability was a prevalent theme at the recent APTA Rail Conference in Chicago. In a session titled “Measuring Success When Making a Commitment to Sustainability,” speakers examined the ongoing effort to help rail transit systems conserve energy and contribute to sustainability and climate protection.

Susannah Kerr Adler, vice president, manager-Architecture & Building Resource Center, with Parsons Brinckerhoff, who moderated the session, spoke about APTA’s Sustainability Commitment and encouraged APTA members to sign on to its base principles.

“Sustainability has been around the Utah Transit Authority for a long time,” said Ed Buchanan, UTA manager, safety and environmental, “but it was never formally identified as such to the employees.” He noted the strong support of sustainability issues by UTA General Manager John Inglish, who serves as sustainability chairman for the International Association of Public Transport (UITP).

Erik G. Michaud, P.E., Engineering Centre of Expertise for Bombardier Transportation North America, emphasized the importance of bringing all employees into the procedure. “We believe that all stakeholders share the responsibility to implement solutions,” he said, stressing that “no single solution, no universal recipe” will solve the concerns of creating a sustainable organization: “We’re trying to reach a state of equilibrium, so we have to look to our principles and how we can observe in our organizations what makes it sustainable… We need to change, so we need to be bold.”

Tracy Reed, project manager for the Link Light Rail Project Development Division of Sound Transit in Seattle, noted that her organization has emphasized sustainability and environmental maintenance since 2007. In fact, she said, the agency reached 46 of the 54 sustainability targets it set in the first year, such as purchasing technology to reduce idling of commuter rail locomotives; tracking fuel consumption to create a baseline for future measurement and goals; and instituting a midday bus storage program for a portion of the fleet, saving approximately 95,000 gallons of fuel in 2008.

Mark Minor, project manager, regional coordination, for Chicago’s Regional Transportation Authority, and Karl Peet, coordinator, planning and development, for the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), shared their experiences in quantifying the impact of public transit on climate change.

“While transit vehicles produce emissions—these are only a small percentage of all emissions related to transportation,” said Minor. “We need to show that well-utilized transit can reduce emissions for the entire transportation sector.”

Peet noted that “the core of sustainability is ridership.” He continued: “We are also taking steps to make the CTA fleet more efficient; later this summer we’re introducing 150 hybrid buses to the fleet.” [Ed. Note: CTA will also add 58 more hybrid buses, funded through an ARRA grant.]
     
—Susan Berlin, Senior Editor

 

Case Study: Los Angeles: Creating Sustainability in Paradise

BY CRIS B. LIBAN, D.Env., P.E., Environmental Compliance and Services Department Manager, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

How can a public transportation agency contribute to Los Angeles’ sustainability? How are we helping this paradise adapt to the issues of climate change and energy challenges?

As a recognized leader in environmental responsibility, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) has implemented many firsts for the transportation industry. We accomplished most of our sustainability-related work within the last two years. How did we do it?

This article talks about our success and how we reach out to stimulate our struggling economy, and help others learn with us—and themselves become successful.

Our Beginning
Metro’s sustainability efforts are rooted in initiatives endorsed by our board of directors in response to legislative efforts that affect our agency’s activities, particularly California Assembly Bill (AB) 32 and Senate Bill (SB) 375. AB 32, approved by the California legislature and signed into law in September 2006, is an overarching law to protect the state from catastrophic economic, environmental, and social consequences of global climate change. SB 375 is the nation’s first law to control greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by curbing sprawl, signed into law in September 2008.

As Los Angeles County’s transportation planner, designer, builder, and operator of transit facilities, Metro contributes to the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of the region by reducing congestion, improving air quality, and providing mobility. However, due to the nature of our operations, we also create significant environmental impacts. We must reduce these impacts to meet our core mission of continuously improving an efficient, sustainable, and effective transportation system for the county.

Recognizing this issue, we consciously began building our foundation to ensure that our work complements the work of others in our collective regional journey toward a sustainable future.

Policies and Plans
Our board recently adopted the Metro Environmental Policy to signify our commitment to environmental protection using Environmental Management Systems (EMS). This policy provides a platform for the agency’s commitment to using sustainable principles and practices in all of our planning, construction, operations, and procurement activities.

Also, our Metro Energy and Sustainability Policy complements the intent of the Environmental Policy by requiring that any new construction greater than 10,000 square feet incorporate Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) principles with the goal of achieving LEED-Silver certification.

In addition, we have developed a comprehensive Metro Sustainability Implementation Plan (MSIP) outlining short-term and long-term projects. This document guides us in the projects and tasks we need to accomplish and helps us track our progress in fulfilling the deadlines we have set.

Our staff responds to our Ad-Hoc Sustainability and Climate Change Committee to report on our progress in the development and implementation our sustainability program. Metro has recently adopted Goal #9--sustain the environment with efficiency and reduce GHG emissions—as one of its strategic goals.

Institutionalizing Sustainability
We have made significant progress in the last two years. Metro has commenced aggressive programs to ensure that sustainability becomes a core element of its ongoing work.

Currently, we are working to make “green thinking” a part of our culture. In partnership with local educational institutions, we recently began a Sustainability Awareness Training program for Metro staff. Key to the training is the creation of Personal Sustainability Initiatives (PSI) to develop, document, implement, and improve sustainability performance within the personal workspace.

We are developing an EMS with initial pilot programs at two of our divisions. The purpose of these projects is to streamline the environmental process, reduce the impacts of our operations, and ensure that environmental performance consistently exceeds compliance. Metro will roll out the system to all divisions after completing the pilots.

We report our GHG emissions and sustainability efforts on an annual basis, calculating the initial estimate of emissions in 2008 using The Climate Registry General Reporting Protocol. We are currently engaged in developing transit-specific inventory protocols with other transit properties through APTA to include the three elements of mode shift: vehicle miles traveled, land use, and congestion reduction.

We host an annual Sustainability Summit to bring together regional stakeholders focused on these issues; the second summit was held in May of 2009. We continue to engage our summit participants through quarterly discussions of the issues raised during the event.

Conserving Energy, Installing Renewable Projects
We have installed solar panels and energy conservation measures at four of our facilities. These projects generate about 1.85 megawatts of energy and reduce GHG emissions by 10,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions (CO2e) per year, making them among the largest installation of their kind in the transit industry.

We have applied for additional funding and explored partnerships to further expand our renewable energy portfolio to our other bus divisions, rail facilities, and our park-and-ride stations. We also recently began an agency-wide energy audit on the remainder of our facilities.

Building Green
In keeping with the policy dictating that construction of buildings greater than 10,000 square feet meets the minimum LEED-New Construction (NC) Silver Certification standard, our new Division 9 San Gabriel Valley Sector Transportation Building received LEED-NC Gold certification.

We also began an assessment of our Gateway Headquarters Building to obtain LEED-EBOM (Existing Building Operation and Maintenance) certification. Our headquarters has a significant number of cost-saving opportunities associated with reduced utility use and conservation.

We are incorporating sustainability design guidelines using LEED principles in major capital projects, beginning with the Metro Orange Line Extension in Canoga Park, CA.

Leading in Clean Fleet Operations
In 2000, Metro adopted a policy of purchasing only alternative fuel vehicles for our bus fleet. We now operate the nation’s largest compressed natural gas-powered (CNG) bus fleet. These buses generate less air pollution components than traditional diesel buses.

We continue to explore the potential of other advanced technologies, including hybrid, composite, mixed fuel, and fuel cell vehicles.

Expanding Mobility, Accessibility, and Livability
Metro is working to reduce the need to drive in Los Angeles by providing quality transit service. We want to turn Los Angeles into a transit-friendly region through our more than 30 joint development efforts—thus improving the lives of all Angelenos.

We met our 2025 rail ridership goals of 269,710 weekly boardings 17 years early: in 2008, we surpassed this goal by more than 30,000 rail riders.

Other Efforts
While we recognize the importance of these accomplishments, we have already set our sights on the next steps. We are involved in the following projects to further improve sustainability performance:

* Staff recently completed “Towards a Sustainable Future: June 2009 Baseline Sustainability Report.” This report has two specific goals: to provide information that our decision makers can use to improve Metro’s sustainability performance and to inform the public on this performance. Recommendations are currently being addressed.
* We are developing a Climate Action Plan to determine the most efficient and effective ways we can reduce our carbon footprint.
* We are designing our Water Action Plan to find the most efficient and effective ways to reduce our water use. We recently adopted an agency-wide Water Use and Conservation Policy, which will form the foundation of the water plan.
* We are conducting pilot studies to determine the feasibility of including other alternative fuel buses in our fleet.
* We will conform to the intent of the “Green Chemistry” principles now in practice in California. Green chemistry encourages the design of products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances.
* We are considering a green procurement policy that will reduce the environmental impact of our purchases and will use our leverage as a large consumer to drive the economic markets in favor of sustainable products.
* In addition to these efforts, we will continue our campaign to increase ridership and remove single-occupant vehicles from the road.

Our staff will continue the implementation of our current and planned projects. We have signed on to the APTA Sustainability Commitment.

In addition, we have publicly committed to ensuring the inclusion of sustainability principles on projects to be constructed under the new funding mechanisms such as Measure R and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

At Metro, we look at sustainability not as an expense, but as an investment for our future. We continue to work with our stakeholders countywide to develop key strategies that further enhance our ability to influence regional sustainability efforts.

Our compliance with climate change-related statutes and regulations and our ability to reduce operations costs, protect the environment, and provide a safe and healthy workplace depends on our ability to maintain the current situation and develop new sustainable projects. We do what we do to achieve the intent of our environmental policies, fulfill our Strategic Goal #9, and inspire others to participate in our region’s progress toward sustainability.

Living in paradise has its price. We are doing our share to keep that price low.

Sound Environmental Practices Essential to TriMet’s Newest Light Rail Route: The Green Line

BY BEKKI WITT, Public Information Officer, TriMet, Portland, OR

When Portland’s Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet) began construction on its fifth light rail line, the agency took “green” practices to a whole new level. The construction of TriMet’s new Green Line, which opens in September, includes the reuse of materials, incorporation of renewable energy, and installing stormwater treatment features, making the line a model of the agency’s commitment to environmental stewardship.

“Our commitment to protecting the environment touches every aspect of our business, from our facility and vehicle operations to our maintenance and construction initiatives,” said TriMet General Manager Fred Hansen. “The new Green Line more than fits its name—we’ve addressed water, soil, and air quality issues with innovative measures that impact the sustainability and livability of our region.”

Reusing and Reducing Materials
During Green Line construction, which started in early 2007, TriMet and its contractors found ways to reuse materials onsite and to reduce the use of new materials. This strategy reduced landfill waste, conserved resources, minimized the amount of new materials needed, and reduced emissions generated by manufacturing and transport.

During the project, approximately 30,000 cubic yards of concrete, existing aggregates, and base material were crushed or cleaned and reused, including curbs, gutters, and fountains, which became walking and driving surfaces and part of the landscape design. Boulders removed during construction were given to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the City of Portland to use in park settings and habitat restoration.

Contractors refurbished and replaced existing ornamental lighting fixtures, cast iron tree grates, inlet frames for stormwater, and wooden benches and salvaged steel, bronze, and other metal parts from old bus shelters.

TriMet relocated approximately 1,810 feet of its existing sound walls and installed nearly one mile of new sound walls, selecting a unique product with a composite plastic shell filled with recycled, chipped tires. Creation of the new sound walls diverted a total of 9,030 tires from landfills.

Energy Efficiency
TriMet plans to incorporate green features in the Green Line’s downtown terminus and make it an educational space with renewable energy sources and stormwater filtration features. The planned installation of photovoltaic panels will generate more than 50 kilowatts of renewable solar energy. Additionally, TriMet expects to install 22 wind turbines on top of the light rail’s catenary poles to provide up to 1,760 watts of power. Approximately 70 percent of the site’s electrical use will be powered by renewable energy.

To conserve energy at a new 750-space parking garage along the line, TriMet enrolled in the Energy Trust of Oregon’s New Buildings program. The program’s financial incentives enabled TriMet to install a lighting system that will save more than 496,000 kilowatt-hours a year—almost five times the efficiency of a standard code-compliant lighting system and equal to the annual average electricity consumption of 44 U.S. households.

Trees, Landscaping, and Stormwater
Tree preservation and replacement were among TriMet’s priorities for the project, which included the planting of more than 1,200 trees. TriMet also added 5.2 acres of diverse landscaping designed to flourish in an urban setting with minimal maintenance, and installed 290 Silva Cells, a modular underground bio-retention system that improves stormwater management and encourages healthy tree growth near station platforms.

Stormwater runoff from the street, tracks, and light rail operations will be treated through bio-filtration planters and bioswales. Dry wells associated with the bioswales detain the cleaned water and gradually release it into the soil to replenish groundwater and reduce the flooding and scouring of streams and rivers.

Through its commitment to address environmental issues at every step before and during the Green Line construction, TriMet has once again demonstrated how well it understands the impacts of its operations and the importance of making sustainable practices a priority in all the agency does.

“In just a few weeks, the Green Line will be in service, connecting new parts of our region together,” said Hansen. “It will also serve as a model of how a successful sustainability program is implemented.”

Hampton Roads: Out in Front with Sustainable Solutions

BY SCOTT DEMHARTER, Director of Energy Management and Sustainability, Hampton Roads Transit, Hampton, VA

When Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) became one of the first public transportation agencies in the nation to sign on to APTA’s Sustainability Commitment, in January 2009, it would have been easy to see it as its first step toward a more socially responsible and environmentally friendly future. However, this medium-sized transit agency in southeastern Virginia already had begun working toward sustainability principles.

HRT reflects its commitment to sustainability throughout the organization, from incorporating sustainable ideas as part of its strategic objectives to identifying someone within the organization to champion those ideas. HRT even had established an outreach program and was beginning to monitor numerous environmental indicators.

Prior to the introduction of APTA’s Sustainability Commitment, HRT leadership had committed to developing and implementing an agency-wide, ISO 14001-based Environmental Management System (EMS) and sustainability program. This effort became branded in the logo “HRT CARES,” which stands for Creating Accessible Regional Sustainability. Its purpose is to directly link sustainability with HRT’s mission: “To serve the community through high quality, safe, efficient, and environmentally friendly regional transportation services.”

The agency kicked off EMS development in Summer 2008 with the drafting of an environmental policy and creation of specific objectives and new standard operating procedures for pollution prevention, climate protection, and energy conservation. These procedures, now standard, affect the monitoring of underground storage tanks, hazardous materials spill response, bus idling, preventative vehicle maintenance, energy/electricity management, facility lighting replacement, and HVAC settings and control.

As part of the ISO 14001 certification process, all HRT employees will eventually be trained and held accountable for complying with EMS policies and procedures as part of their job responsibilities.

HRT has also established an internal “Go Green” campaign that features initiatives for turning off lights and computers (Switch Green); using reusable drinking containers (Drink Green); printing double-sided and only when necessary (Print Green); and recycling (Pitch Green).

HRT uses clean, ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel in all its standard buses, and employs a fleet of 24 hybrid diesel-electric buses for its city shuttle services. It also operates the “TRAFFIX” Program, which promotes sustainability through transportation alternatives, such as express buses and vanpools, to reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicles on the road.
 In addition, two current HRT construction projects further stress the agency’s commitment to environmental management and sustainability. The new, 130,000-square-foot Maintenance and Administration Facility—scheduled for occupancy in early 2011—has been designed to achieve a LEED Gold rating, with such sustainable features as a rainwater harvesting system, water-efficient landscaping, indoor day lighting, and onsite renewable energy.

The other green construction project is The Tide, Virginia’s first light rail line, which should begin boarding next year. Once completed, The Tide will extend 7.4 miles across the city of Norfolk. Local planners now envision the line as the first in a regional system for Hampton Roads and beyond. This project is being considered as a model for sustainability in the region—creating jobs, attracting businesses, reducing traffic congestion, supporting transit-oriented development, increasing property values, and improving the impact of transportation on the environment.

King County Metro: Poised to Go for Gold

BY KEVIN DESMOND, General Manager, King County Metro Transit, Seattle, WA

The Pacific Northwest region that is home to King County Metro Transit boasts a wealth of natural resources and beauty, and the area’s residents strongly support efforts to protect our cherished environment. King County Metro Transit has long shared the public’s commitment to environmental stewardship; we have been doing our part by helping to build a robust public transportation system and by adopting green operating practices throughout our agency.

So we welcomed the opportunity this year to sign APTA’s Sustainability Commitment at the Gold level. This rigorous program calls for us to take actions that will expand sustainability programs we have in place—and will spur us to find new ways to help our region thrive for generations to come.

Our efforts to reduce our environmental footprint will build on a policy foundation established by far-sighted elected officials, specifically former King County Executive Ron Sims. Sims—who as a county council member called for action to combat global warming as early as 1988—launched a plan for the county in 2007 that set a goal of slashing greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below current levels by 2050. He also issued an order requiring the county to minimize energy use through increased efficiency, optimized operation and maintenance, and conservation.

Metro had been using green practices before these policy measures were in place, but we redoubled our efforts to meet the new, ambitious goals. Here are a few highlights of our programs and achievements.

* Metro became a leader in developing hybrid buses when we faced the need to replace a fleet of aging coaches in 2000. The transit agency collaborated with its regional partner, Sound Transit, and a team of national manufacturers to create a new hybrid bus that operates on ultra-low sulfur-diesel and electricity generated by the vehicle. Since then, Metro’s growing fleet of hybrids—now numbering 235—has put up impressive numbers: an improvement of 40 percent in fuel economy compared to conventional buses; a 30 to 40 percent reduction in carbon dioxide; a 50 percent reduction in nitrogen oxides; and 90 percent reductions in particulate matter, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons.
* Our pioneering ride-sharing program has more than 1,000 commuter vans on the road. A study of Metro’s VanPool service concluded that, by removing more than 5,000 commuters from county roads in 2007, the program avoided both the production of 21,000 tons of greenhouse gases and the consumption of more than two million gallons of fossil fuel.
* We started an aggressive recycling program. Going beyond the typical paper and glass recycling efforts, Metro also recycles or reuses engine oil, coolant, street sweepings, landscape waste, electronic scrap, broken bus-shelter glass, and more. One transit facility has a worm bin for recycling food scraps. As a result, in 2008 we avoided the disposal of 94,000 gallons of engine oil, 15,000 gallons of coolant, and 45,000 light bulbs. This program received the 2004 EPA WasteWise Hall of Fame Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
* We at Metro are following a plan to sustain our physical plant far into the future through an industry-leading Transit Asset Management Program. As lighting, HVAC, and other systems wear out, we replace them with modern and highly energy-efficient technologies.
* Metro’s Design and Construction Group employs green practices as we replace and add new facilities. All of the half-dozen building projects undertaken over the past two years either have or will achieve LEED certification. Our new Transit Control Center proudly bears LEED Gold certification.
* Another innovation is our Green Cleaning program, launched by our custodial team several years ago. This program is based on the team’s policy to provide service “in a manner that is earth and human friendly.” It aims to improve employees’ health by reducing their exposure to cleaning chemicals, improving air quality, and making the work environment safe and sanitary. To attain this goal, the team overhauled its set of cleaning supplies and procedures, reducing the number of products it uses from 32 to just two, both of which carry “green seal” certification.

Supervisors trained all custodial staff members in new green cleaning procedures—and faced some challenges. For one, microfiber mops and rags were a hard sell to the custodial crew. “People liked their mops and buckets,” said supervisor Peggy Meyer. They were accustomed to using them, and not sure anything else would work as well. But after trying the lighter-weight mops and learning about microfiber’s benefits (such as using less water), custodial employees were glad to make the switch.”

I consider our work to expand the transit system and ridership as part of our sustainability program as well; we cannot meet our greenhouse-gas emission goals unless we reduce the number of cars on the road. Our efforts include attractive new services like RapidRide Bus Rapid Transit, marketing campaigns that highlight the environmental benefits of using transit, and innovations in customer communication.

I am encouraged by the fact that Metro’s ridership rose by 20 percent in the past three years, outpacing the growth rates for vehicle miles traveled, population, and employment in our region.

We are eager to meet the challenge of serving the public while sustaining our environment, and look forward to sharing success stories with other APTA members who have made the sustainability commitment.

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.

Administrative Office
“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.

Fleet
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!

Developing a Healthy, Sustainable, Livable Transportation System Network

BY NINA WALFOORT, Director of Marketing, Transit Authority of River City, Louisville, KY

The Transit Authority of River City (TARC) is not only working to make its operations and buildings less energy-consuming and more sustainable; it is also joining with community partners to make the transportation network in Louisville healthier and more livable.

With active participation in the Mayor’s Healthy Hometown Movement and the Louisville Metro Health Department, TARC is helping to envision a healthy community that reduces car dependency by offering opportunities to walk, bicycle, and use public transit. The health benefits of active transportation—which includes walking, bicycling, or taking TARC—include more physical activity, greater social interaction, and reduced stress when compared to driving.

By advocating for greater consideration of pedestrians and bicyclists in transportation planning, TARC is also advocating for its riders, most of whom walk and some of whom bike to their bus stop.

“Building our transportation systems so that people have options for how they travel and the greatest degree of connectivity is key to building healthy, livable communities,” said Executive Director J. Barry Barker. “It’s only logical that a transit agency like TARC would join with the public health sector to improve community walkability and enhance the safety and sustainability of our transportation system.”

The TARC team has worked to increase pedestrian mobility and advocate for active transportation in the following ways:

* Playing a leadership role in building and improving sidewalks to increase transportation access for people with disabilities through New Freedom funding. The addition of a new TARC position—infrastructure manager—has allowed the sidewalk program jointly managed by TARC and the city’s Public Works Department to make significant advances in the past year.
* Chairing the Healthy Hometown Active Living Committee and providing leadership to the “Street Sense” campaign to educate cyclists and pedestrians on safe practices around vehicles, including buses. The rollout of the Street Sense campaign this month will prominently feature a TARC wrapped bus with the new branding for the campaign.
* Helping coordinate last year’s Pedestrian Summit, which resulted in the creation of a Community Walkability Plan to address infrastructure needs, encourage walking, and enhance street safety.
* Serving on the mayor’s Bicycle Task Force, which helps to build bike lanes and encourage bicycling with events like the Mayor’s Hike and Bike and Ride to Work Day.
* Serving on the design standards committee for the Louisville Loop, a 100-mile bike-pedestrian path currently under construction.

By supporting public health initiatives on walkability and bicycling, TARC is on the forefront of a community design vision gaining traction throughout the country that accommodates all modes; makes jobs and activity centers accessible without a private car; and designs new development with full access to public transportation.

One indication of how transportation has become integrated with health issues is the recent publication of an American Public Health Association (APHA) report titled At the Intersection of Public Health and Transportation: Promoting Health Transportation Policy. Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, director of the association, writes in the preface to the report that the upcoming transportation authorization bill is an opportunity to “promote health as a critical consideration in transportation policy.”

The APHA report calls for building healthy communities through transportation improvements that encourage walking, biking, and public transportation use, stating: “Current research demonstrates that how we build our transportation systems, how and what modality we use on them, and how we get people and things from one place to another affects our health.”

Today, the average American driver spends 443 hours per year, or 55 working days, behind the wheel of a car. Meanwhile, public health research shows that transit users, like walkers and bicyclists, are more likely than drivers to meet the surgeon general’s recommendation of 30 minutes of physical activity daily. A 2004 study found that Americans who use transit spend a median of 19 minutes daily walking to and from transit and 29 percent of transit users achieve their 30 minutes of physical activity just by walking to transit.

Public transportation is a key piece of sustainability in our nation’s energy use, air quality, and job access—and it plays a key role in sustaining the health of our transportation network.

‘Cross-Blended’ Diesel Burns Cleaner, Cooler

BY JOHN R. BELL, Program Manager-Communications

A novel blend of fuels devised by a small public transit agency has resulted in cleaner emissions and better cold-weather reliability.

Ben Franklin Transit (BFT) in Richland, WA, in 2007 began an experiment funded by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Washington State Department of Ecology. This program was led by Richard G. Ciccone, BFT manager of fleet, facilities, and special projects, who shared his experience in an interview at the 2009 APTA Bus & Paratransit Conference in Seattle.

BFT blended 71.6 percent ultra-low-sulfur diesel (ULSD), 20 percent biodiesel, 7.7 percent ethanol, and .7 percent of a proprietary oxygenated diesel additive trademarked as O2 Diesel, then tested the cross blend in seven different bus engines from the system’s fleet, including a 6V92—“one of the dirtiest engines there is,” Ciccone noted.

The results? Independent lab tests found that exhaust temperatures were an average of 6.5 degrees lower with the blended fuel; fuel temperature was 18 degrees lower on average; and the horsepower loss was less than 4 percent. Fuel consumption was approximately the same as ULSD, Ciccone said, and engine oil temperature was 3 degrees lower.

This cleaner-burning fuel with a higher oxygen content made for a more complete fuel burn, he explained, resulting in less exhaust smoke and considerably less soot in the oil. Oil analysis showed a soot content of less than one-half percent with the cross-blended fuel, substantially lower than the nearly 4 percent found with regular diesel. This could triple the length of time buses can go between oil changes, according to Ciccone.

He noted that previous tests had shown that ethanol added to diesel fuel reduces the content of nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide, particulates, and smoke in diesel exhaust. Biodiesel made from canola oil or soybeans, which also showed good emission reductions, is a biodegradable organic solvent; biodiesel is even used to clean up asphalt paving equipment on highway projects, he said.

The O² Diesel additive is the emulsifier, which allows B20 and ethanol to blend with the ULSD. In turn, the lower flash point of ethanol allows for easier cold-weather starts and helps the thicker biodiesel to flow at temperatures down to 15 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.

In addition, the blended fuel requires no infrastructure investment or mechanical alterations whatsoever. “You can just put it in the tank and go,” he said.

The one impediment Ciccone reported to widespread use of the cross-blended fuel is the rising prices of the component fuels and additive at a time of record diesel fuel prices. However, this could be offset over the long term by longer vehicle life and reduced service costs—and the prices may eventually come down.

Riverside, CA: A Champion of Green Technology

BY BRADLEY WEAVER, Marketing Manager, Riverside Transit Agency, Riverside, CA

The Riverside Transit Agency (RTA), which has provided public bus service for California’s western Riverside County for more than 30 years, has long been a champion of cleaner, greener technologies and practices in public transit.

RTA has pioneered the use of cleaner-burning fuels in its bus operations and, as concern grows over climate change, continues to explore innovative approaches to expand its influence in more environmentally positive ways.

RTA is also an agency that encourages energy efficiency, recycling, and carpooling among its 400-plus employees. When it comes to environmental responsibility and sustainability, RTA continues to reach new heights year after year.

Making History
RTA was an environmentally conscious transit organization long before much of the nation was “thinking green.”

In 1988, prior to today’s laws regulating bus emissions, RTA was among the first transit systems in the nation to operate low-emission buses, in this case powered by methanol. In fact, when RTA built its Riverside headquarters in 1986, it included a separate fueling system for alternative clean fuels—a rare thing at a time when diesel was the king of fuels.

The agency’s drive for cleaner fuel didn’t stop there. In 2001, it took its biggest step by replacing its entire fleet of diesel buses with vehicles powered by compressed natural gas (CNG). Despite the heftier price tag—each CNG bus cost nearly $50,000 more than a similar diesel bus—RTA wanted to make a statement about its commitment to cleaner air.

Today, RTA employs 127 CNG vehicles, including buses, trolleys, and company vehicles.

Our use of CNG fuel not only saves the environment; it saves the agency roughly $1.8 million a year, compared to diesel fuel.

“RTA has long been a champion of cleaner, greener technologies and practices in public transit, and we want our customers to know how much of an impact they have on the environment by riding,” said RTA Chairman of the Board Karen Spiegel.

Finding New Power Sources
The agency recently launched two pilot programs that could reduce its vehicle fuel consumption, cut emissions, and improve bus engine performance.

One of the programs included the installation of electric radiator fans in an RTA bus to determine how well they perform compared to buses that use hydraulic fans. As part of the other, RTA worked with the Korean engine manufacturer Doosan to develop a cleaner-burning, more fuel-efficient CNG engine; if it is successful, RTA could expand such technology to its entire fleet.

Later this year, RTA plans to equip one of its buses with new technology that relies on kinetic energy and hydraulic power. If this process works, it could go a long way in reducing fuel consumption and emissions.

The agency also has targeted its own facilities for enhanced energy efficiency, replacing high-wattage lighting fixtures in its bus barn and offices with low-energy fixtures such as fluorescent bulbs. The agency is also installing motion sensors in its buildings that control lighting and energy-conserving thermostats that regulate office temperatures.

RTA knows there’s no better time to invest in cleaner technologies. After all, Americans are riding public transportation at record levels, marking a 52-year high with 10.7 billion trips taken in 2008.

With that kind of demand, and RTA’s unwavering commitment to making a difference, there’s no telling how far we’ll go.

Sustainability, Community, and Capital Planning in Bridgeport, CT

Special to Passenger Transport

On April 22, 2009, Greater Bridgeport Transit (GBT)—like hundreds of other public transit agencies across the U.S.—celebrated Earth Day by promoting the role public transportation plays in healthy communities. Through a series of events, the agency highlighted the environmental benefits of its bus services and broadcast them throughout the service area.

The focus of GBT’s Earth Day effort was to thank riders for the contribution they make to a cleaner environment by choosing to use public transportation.

GBT is now looking to the not-so-distant future where the service itself, its facilities and equipment, and its participation in local land use decisions become part of a concerted effort to move to a cleaner operation and reduced dependence on non-renewable resources.

When the Bridgeport transit agency became a signatory to APTA’s Sustainability Commitment in May 2009, it did so with the understanding that it would need to revisit its capital planning process, particularly major capital investments, to ensure more careful consideration and incorporation of new technologies, renewable resources, and sources of renewable energy, along with their costs, into the plan.

Sustainability is now a key element in the agency’s two largest capital projects: the expansion and improvement of its administrative and maintenance facility and the upcoming replacement of one-third of its bus fleet.

When GBT retained a design team for its facility expansion and improvement project, now in the site planning phase, important selection criteria were the team’s experience in the use of recycled or renewable materials in construction, the uses of alternative energy sources in the operation of the facility and experience in LEED-certified construction projects. Today, the conceptual design may include a 70,000-square-foot vegetative roof on the administrative building—addressing stormwater runoff, heat loss, and energy use—and a 35,000-square-foot photovoltaic array, or “solar farm,” on the maintenance facility. The solar farm should be able to meet all of the agency’s electricity needs.

GBT is also committed to reducing the environmental footprint of its fleet, incorporating options for hybrid diesel-electric vehicles in its upcoming replacement of 15 fixed route buses. In May of 2009, the agency joined an effort led by the Greater New Haven Transit District to pilot the use of hydrogen-powered hydraulic buses in paratransit service. Both of these projects are seeking funding through the Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction program, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The agency is also exploring avenues for improvement in its sustainability commitment on a daily basis, with measures including ultra-low-diesel fuel; a vehicle repower program involving the remainder of GBT’s large bus fleet, which will incorporate the latest technology in emissions reduction; and in cleaning products and recycling programs. GBT will include alternative fuel technology in its service vehicle procurements, already incorporating hybrid support vehicles into its fleet.

The inclusion of sustainability principles in GBT’s capital planning process was among the first steps in “greening” its overall operation. Equally important are the agency’s efforts to become an integral part of local and regional land use decisions. GBT is actively involved in two major initiatives in the city of Bridgeport, including the Downtown Plan Task Force (DPTF) and the Sustainability Plan.

The DPTF is overseeing the implementation of the Downtown Master Plan, which envisions a dense, pedestrian-friendly, active, and vibrant downtown. One component of this plan is the proposed creation of a parking authority; GBT has recommended, and has received support for, broadening the scope of this authority beyond simply managing the supply of parking to helping reduce the demand for parking. In this way, the parking authority could become a full-fledged mobility manager in the central city, coordinating car sharing, universal, or eco-pass programs, parking pricing, and shared use lots and transit services and pedestrian amenities.

The Bridgeport Sustainability Plan aims to make Bridgeport the greenest city in New England. Ron Kilcoyne, chief executive officer of GBT, co-chairs the city’s Transportation and Land Use working group, which is developing strategies to significantly reduce Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT), leading to less greenhouse gas output, reduced energy consumption, and improved air quality while also removing barriers to development. Between 15 and 20 percent of previously developed land in Bridgeport is vacant, providing opportunities for dense infill that is an antidote to sprawl.

One recommendation being developed is that the city adopt a “Transit First” policy with several specific recommendations on reducing VMT at the same time that new development is generating more trips.

GBT is poised to grow with the region, playing a large role in encouraging more environmentally responsible transportation choices and—by “walking the walk”—being a good environmental citizen in its daily operations and capital initiatives.

Wind, Sun Provide Electric Power in San Antonio

VIA Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio, TX, has begun using wind-generated electricity for all its power needs through CPS Energy’s Windtricity® program.

At a July 22 press event in the Frank L. Madla Transit Center, VIA announced its agreement with CPS Energy to become the first public agency in San Antonio to receive 100 percent of its power from Windtricity. This agreement will supply VIA with wind power from turbines set up in West Texas for a period of 12 months, and VIA will end up purchasing about 10 megawatt-hours of Windtricity.

As a result of this agreement, CPS Energy has named VIA a "Platinum" level Windtricity business partner.

VIA’s switch away from coal-fired power plants is expected to mean a reduction of approximately 7,180 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere—a similar impact to taking 1,325 cars off the road.

The transit agency also is exploring the use of solar power whenever possible. VIA’s newest shelters have solar panels that power lighting, and a solar installation at the Madla Transit Center provides power to that facility.

This setup helps save approximately 14,300 kilowatt-hours per year, and it has earned VIA a $26,919 rebate from CPS Energy.

 

IndyGo Green: Numerous Sustainable Transit Initiatives Implemented in Indianapolis

BY SAMANTHA CROSS, Director of Business Development, Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation (IndyGo), Indianapolis, IN

The nature of public transportation lends itself to increased individual sustainability. For years now, IndyGo, along with other public transit agencies, has been preaching the environmental benefits of riding the bus.

In addition to public awareness campaigns, use of federal Congestion Management and Air Quality grants, and promotional partnerships with governmental and community groups, IndyGo has made great strides in incorporating sustainable practices into its own operational processes and improvements.

Using a portion of its federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds and other grant dollars, IndyGo has been able to plan and design much-needed upgrades for its facility in addition to procuring new buses for its fleet. Using LEED-like performance measures, the agency will implement several upgrades to the building that will affect its energy consumption and indoor environmental quality. Among the energy-saving upgrades and installations are improvement of the building’s envelope; energy-efficient glazing; air curtains for overhead doors; sun shading devices; energy-efficient light fixtures; and overall reduction in energy consumption.

Indoor air quality is an equally important concern, so IndyGo has introduced such improvements as a new ventilation system; chemical and pollutant source control and monitoring; and a thermal comfort system control.

Along with any expenditure it makes, a transit agency should consider financial prudence when choosing products and services with sustainable features. By funding improvements to the facility and reducing its corporate carbon footprint, IndyGo will find operational savings in the areas of utilities and maintenance through these capital investments. In addition, the better lighting and cleaner air should result in increased employee productivity and wellness, hopefully driving down absenteeism and health costs.

In recent years, IndyGo replaced its boiler with an energy-efficient one that uses less gas and electricity and, as a way to conserve water, began recycling water on its wash rack. When the transit system takes its buses through the wash for the initial spray, that water is then reused as rinse water after the soap has been removed.

Another sustainable facility initiative includes a document recycling program through which the agency disposes of old papers and documents in shredders; then bundles the remains and recycles them. In addition, IndyGo is entering into a contract with an environmental waste disposal firm for the removal of its facility waste products including oil, antifreeze, light bulbs, and cleaning solvents.

IndyGo’s plans to purchase new vehicles include making sure sustainable features are part of the specifications for its Indianapolis market. The new fixed route vehicles will be 2010 models outfitted with newly federally mandated particulate filters and selective catalytic reduction engines. The paratransit fleet will welcome 10 new vehicles that run at 20 mpg, about double the efficiency of the current fleet: the carbon footprint on these particular vehicles is 43 percent less than the standard paratransit coach. The agency also is investing in hybrid vehicles to replace six supervisor mini-vans.

Passing on the IndyGo Green mission to its passengers, the agency has been proactive in installing solar lighting in many of its shelters and individual bus stops. This safety feature not only enhances the safety of these stops, but serves as a clear demonstration of its commitment to the local environment.

Being a good steward of taxpayer dollars means making sound procurements and investments while considering how it all impacts the environment. IndyGo’s goal is always to consider the sensible and sustainable choices when doing business. How can the agency ask commuters to start riding the bus to help save the environment if the company isn’t working toward the same goal?

Paratransit Inc.: A Green Good Neighbor in Sacramento

BY BETH BARKER-HIDALGO, Supervisor of Compliance & Facilities, Paratransit Inc., Sacramento, CA

Mary Steinert, deputy executive director of Paratransit Inc., has been a champion of environmentally friendly programs and activities throughout the organization’s history. She has encouraged and fostered an approach to business that promotes thoughtful consideration for the environment when processes or programs are implemented.

As a result of Steinert’s guidance and vision, Paratransit Inc. has gained a reputation in the Sacramento community as an example of best management practices related to program implementation and environmental risk management.

Paratransit Inc. has received numerous awards for its environmental awareness since 2002, beginning with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star Award for the energy-saving components planned and implemented during construction of its new facility. A primary reason for this honor is the environmentally aware lighting in the facility, both new and retrofitted to meet or exceed Title 24 standards for energy efficiency at the time of construction.

T5 lighting fixtures in the agency’s fleet maintenance facility use 50 percent less energy and provide 30 percent more light than standard fixtures. The remainder of the 44,000-square-foot uses T8 lighting.

Another contributing factor is energy-efficient economizers on all 16 HVAC units, combined with a regular preventative maintenance schedule, which help to keep heating and ventilation costs at a minimum and unit efficiency at a maximum.

In 2005, Paratransit Inc. received the Pollution Prevention P2 award from Sacramento County’s Business Environmental Resource Center. It subsequently received the award each year nominated, through 2008, in recognition of its achievements in sustainability.

In May of 2005, the organization went online with an 80kW grid-tied Unisolar, photovoltaic solar system that generates up to 20 percent of the facility’s monthly electrical usage. Paratransit Inc. installed the system in conjunction with a Sarnifil cool roof system that also contributes to the reduction in overall cooling costs for the facility.

Paratransit Inc. frequently appears on EPA’s Best Workplaces for Commuters list in recognition of its aggressive employee transportation coordination effort to reduce Vehicle Miles Traveled among its employees. For example, this program encourages employees to bicycle to work by providing the tools necessary to support alternative modes of commute, such as bike lockers, showers, and personal lockers.

The organization is a member of the Sacramento Transportation Management Association (TMA), which offers employees access to its Guaranteed Ride Home program for users of public transit, carpools, or other alternative modes of transportation to and from work. Paratransit Inc. also provides its employees with full reimbursement for public transit monthly passes.

Other green efforts include providing filtered water through an ice machine and three refrigerators, so employees need not carry water in disposable plastic bottles, and reducing paper use in the fleet maintenance department by introducing software products that allow vehicle operators, mechanics, service writers, parts clerks, and supervisors to perform many required tasks on the computer.

When Paratransit Inc. was considering stormwater management and compliance as a fleet maintenance facility, it became a test site for a new and innovative device that slows the flow of water through a series of baffles and filters. The storm vault, 16 by 60 feet in size and located underneath the bus parking lot, allows oils and sediment to settle and/or collect in the vault, mitigating the pollutant runoff from the facility site into nearby Morrison Creek. A hazardous waste management contractor pumps out the collected sediment and oils on average every five years.

Paratransit Inc. has historically focused on reducing its negative impact on the environment as a result of doing business, and makes every effort to mitigate those impacts whenever possible. The company plans to continue on its path of environmental stewardship as it strives to provide the best services for the communities it serves.

Champaign-Urbana Creates Sustainable Partnerships

BY GRACE KENNEY, Intern, and CYNTHIA HOYLE, Transportation Planning Consultant, Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, Urbana, IL

Environmental issues and sustainability have become daily headlines all over the world. In 2008, another word also appeared regularly in speeches and news features, particularly during the presidential campaign: collaboration. These two trends in public and national values have shown up in all sectors of society and, in the case of public transportation, are especially important to its future success and sustainability.

The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (MTD) in Urbana, IL, lately has been taking large steps forward in both of these categories. Not only focusing on making existing processes more environmentally friendly, the agency has also moved toward the next step of collaboration: creating partnerships with local sustainability advocates and groups.

Environmental Friendliness
Many public transit agencies are making the move toward integrating hybrid buses into their fleets. The MTD has acquired nine hybrid buses and is now training operators on how to operate them. In addition, all buses in the fleet use ultra-low-sulfur fuel and soybean biodiesel.

Not only has MTD incorporated environmentally friendly vehicles and fuels into its sustainability plan, it has also implemented numerous changes internally. The new “Going Green” page on the agency’s web site lists these changes, such as the use of “green” cleaning products, placement of more recycling bins, the change from incandescent bulbs to LED lights, and reduced water use for bus washing. The monthly newsletter now includes a regular column devoted to sustainable behavior.

Working Together
The MTD, along with the cities of Champaign and Urbana and the University of Illinois, recently offered support for the introduction of Zipcar, a car sharing program that encourages mode shift by providing for short trips in the community. People who use Zipcar may find they no longer need to drive their own vehicles or, in some cases, even keep them.

A similar project focusing on bike sharing is also being pursued.

The agency believes that encouraging multimodal transport is key to the sustainability of the community, so it is working hard to address the land use-transportation connection that supports residents who want to use transit, walk, and bike for everyday trips.

Cynthia Hoyle, a transportation planner with MTD, coordinates efforts with multiple local organizations and groups to better meet the needs of the community. Her efforts recently led to the agency hosting a bicycle traffic skills workshop led by certified instructors from the League of American Bicyclists where bus operators, local law enforcement, and bicyclists could learn both how to share the road better and develop better traffic skills.

Other MTD efforts in the community include sponsoring the community Safe Routes to School program and meeting with local bike advocacy groups to ensure that all community members have access to safe, accessible, and sustainable transportation.

Corporate Sustainability: How Green Is My Venture?

BY DIANA C. MENDES, Senior Vice President, AECOM Transportation, and Chair, APTA Policy and Planning Committee

“I never worry about action, but only about inaction,” reflected Winston Churchill as the Second World War loomed. If applied to our own impending climate change crisis, Churchill’s words would be as prescient today as they were in London in the 1930s.

No silver bullet can resolve this situation; if one existed, we’d use it. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work like that. So, we must act.

Addressing climate change is complex, personal, and occasionally even uncomfortable. Sometimes it can also be very simple: a small act can mean a lot.

For larger entities such as corporations, though, the matter has an added dimension. Corporations, like society as a whole, must raise awareness and change their own culture to effect change within and around them. They must provide global strategic focus along with ultimately practical actions. And that’s where we’ve focused our efforts.

“We’re working to make sure that sustainability is more than just a buzzword,” explained Richard Wolsfeld, president of AECOM’s Transportation Group. “Sustainability is an essential component of our business, one that we, as much as possible, build into our projects—from the Second Avenue Subway in New York City, to Terminal A at Logan International Airport in Boston, to Central Corridor Light Rail Transit in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

“Just this month,” he continued, “the staff at 605 Third Ave. [AECOM’s New York City office] earned ISO 14001 certification—an accreditation given to businesses that measure and successfully reduce the impacts of their actions on the environment. During the year-long accreditation effort, the 605 staff learned how little changes such as recycling, turning off unused computers and copiers, and switching from disposable cups to mugs could come up big in terms of preserving the environment,” Wolsfeld added: “This accreditation is the first major step in our goal to attain ISO certification in ATG’s offices nationwide—and the first step in a transformation that will reshape the way we think about and use our resources.”

These efforts are being emulated throughout AECOM. One question that often arises is: why formalize the process through certification? Why not simply make sustainability the official policy and call it a day?

Well, as I mentioned previously, much of the issue involves raising awareness and changing culture. Formal, impartial certifications provide great incentives and advantages in that regard. Not only do they promote a sense of camaraderie and pride, certifications provide tangible goals and benchmarks for progress. A great example is the APTA Sustainability Commitment program.

Calling on APTA members to “commit to a set of actions on sustainability,” the APTA Sustainability Commitment program provides a “checklist of processes to conform to and reduction targets to meet the criteria of sustainability.” Taking that commitment most seriously, AECOM Transportation has applied voluntarily as a founding signatory for Silver status for the 2009 pilot program. To achieve silver status, we have formally committed to the following:

* Making sustainability a part of our organization’s strategic objectives;
* Identifying a sustainability champion within our organization, and providing the necessary human and financial resources and mandates;
* Establishing an outreach program (awareness-raising and education) on sustainability for all staff; and
* Establishing a baseline measurement for several key indicators, particularly the following:
   o Water usage;
   o Carbon emissions;
   o Energy use (electricity, fuel); and
   o Recycling levels/waste.

If one theme resonates through all of these efforts, it is commitment from leadership. Few global efforts work without dynamic, active leadership; action combined with commitment from the top ensures success. In that regard, we have been most fortunate. We are seeing vigorous and comprehensive support from the top of the organization.

As a result, AECOM now adheres to a set of principles to serve current needs and accommodate future demand while carefully balancing existing and projected social, economic, and environmental considerations. Also, we enthusiastically and aggressively incorporate green technologies wherever practicable and effective. That is all a direct result of commitment from our leadership to make this ideal a living, guiding, working principle. Now this ideal infuses everything we do on a project level, a professional level, and even a personal level.

It’s true that no silver bullet exists for the environmental crisis we face, so we must act. When Churchill made his comment on action and inaction in the 1930s, England and the world could not afford inaction. Similarly, when it comes to dealing with the current environmental crisis and climate change, we can’t afford inaction today.

Ben Franklin Transit Shows Environmental Leadership

BY TIM FREDRICKSON, General Manager, Ben Franklin Transit, Richland, WA

Ben Franklin Transit (BFT), located in southeastern Washington State, has been showcasing its environmental leadership for the past 18 years.

The public transit agency serves the cities of Richland, Kennewick, Pasco, West Richland, Benton City, and Prosser in a region commonly known as the Tri-Cities, which is home to the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Bioproducts, Sciences, and Engineering Laboratory of Washington State University, and located in the heart of Washington’s wine country. Business Week magazine recently recognized the Tri-Cities as the third best place in the nation to “start over.”

The mission of Ben Franklin Transit is to promote the principles and practices of livable communities and sustainable development. Our ultimate goal is to provide exceptional and cost-effective transportation services that have the smallest possible impact on the environment. We are excited to be in an area that has the technical and scientific resources to be able to experiment with new technologies and applications.

Educating the Community
With sustainability as one of its core values, BFT was the primary sponsor of a recent community-wide forum directed at educating the community on the principles and practices of livable communities and sustainable development. This effort brought about the development of a set of principles for more sustainable urban planning and development in the region. Although the region has not adopted these principles formally, many local jurisdictions have incorporated the urban design standards into their new planning criteria.

In early 2007, BFT became unique among transit agencies in the United States, and possibly the world, by introducing a blend of two clean and renewable fuels—biodiesel and ethanol—both of which can be developed from crops grown locally for energy or bioenergy. The agency tested the blended fuel in 22 vehicles that represent five different chassis manufacturers, with seven different diesel engines built between 1988 and 2006.

The composite fuel enabled BFT to address the shortcomings of ultra-low-sulfur diesel (ULSD) by creating a fuel that provides the needed lubrication qualities of diesel and will flow at a temperature of 20 degrees below zero Fahrenheit without additional additives. The fuel blend was made locally with 71 percent ULSD, 20 percent biodiesel, 7.7 percent ethanol, and the remainder a fuel called O2Diesel. This equates to a 28 percent reduction in fossil fuel. The blend also substantially reduces nitrogen oxide, particulate matter, and smoke emissions.

BFT also recycles 99 percent of all recyclable materials including bus wash and irrigation water, lubricants, oil and oil filters, antifreeze, batteries, and tires. The motto around the transit property is “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.”

For these reasons and several others, the city of Richland honored BFT as its Green Business of the Year in 2006. The following year, the agency received the Washington State Governor’s Award for Pollution Prevention and Sustainable Practices.

Continuing to build on BFT’s core values, we will continue a tradition of sustainability and environmentally sound practices. BFT has a building project, funded in part by ARRA funds, that is scheduled to start in August as part of an ongoing base facility expansion and modernization project. BFT will use LEED developed guidelines in design and construction to qualify for LEED certification.

Two New Projects
Because of its willingness to participate in the development of sustainable fuels and energy use, BFT has been approached in regard to two other projects, both of which address carbon footprint and greenhouse gas reduction, not only in transit buses, but potentially in other vehicles as well.

The first project is a fuel substitution system using hydrogen without any technical invasion of the engine. It would involve a patented process that uses a small onboard hydrogen reformer, with water and methanol as a substitution fuel during periods of high emissions such as engine startup, idling, and low-speed urban operations.

The other deals with an all-electric conversion, replacing a vehicle’s engine with an electric motor and a battery pack from SSC Green Inc., located in West Richland, WA. The firm’s product is a liquid-cooled all-electric powertrain that can be tailored to fit BFT’s torque and horsepower needs, using a battery pack made in America.

Cincinnati Hosts Seminar for Board Members, Support Staff

A variety of keynote speakers offered insights and information to board members and support staff who participated in APTA’s Transit Board Members Seminar and Board Support Employee Development Workshop, July 18-21 in Cincinnati.

Mitchel D. Livingston, Ph.D., vice president for student affairs and chief diversity officer at the University of Cincinnati, presented a view of transportation through the prism of Alvin Toffler’s The Third Wave. The first wave, 1700s-1950, began with dirt roadways and trails and was followed by paved roads and train routes to America’s towns and cities. The second wave, 1950-2008, created the Interstate Highway System and air travel. The third wave, 2008-2050, will emphasize an improved quality of life through an ecological system of transportation options.

Stephen D. Van Beek, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of the Eno Transportation Foundation, presented “Regional, National, and International Trends in Transportation: The View Beyond the Transit District.” He noted “the new Administration’s attention to our nation’s infrastructure deficit, Congressional consideration of the long-term surface and aviation authorizations, and the development of a historic climate change bill.”

Eno’s new Transit Board Summit training series—a cooperative effort with APTA and the National Transit Institute—will be offered for the first time during the APTA Annual Meeting in Orlando, FL, Oct. 4-7.

Dr. De Hicks, president of Stuart Consulting Group Inc., discussed key motivators for different age groups in his presentation, “From the Greatest Generation to Millennials: Working Effectively with Five Generations.” With board support staff members, he led a day-long workshop covering such topics as recognizing transformational opportunities and taking advantage of them.

Discussing current trends in labor agreements and the negotiation process was Thomas P. Hock, Esq., CEO of Professional Transit Management Ltd.

Doug Eadie, president and CEO of Doug Eadie & Company, spoke on “Meeting the Governing Challenge: Applying the High-Impact Governing Model,” discussing contemporary definitions of the board’s governing role and functions and comparing them with older models.

“Innovate to Be Great” was the subject of luncheon keynote speaker Marilyn Shazor, CEO of host Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority/Metro—winner of an APTA 2008 Innovation Award. She spoke about theories of creativity in relation to public transportation’s services and service quality.

Metro offered a combined tour to two facilities: the Eligibility Assessment Center where registrants learned more about the process for determining paratransit eligibility, and the Center for Training Excellence where participants used Metro’s bus simulator. The tours followed an educational session for board members on eligibility led by Donna P. McNamee, board member at Laketran in Lake County, OH. The groups also attended a reception and toured the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center courtesy of sponsors First Transit and URS Corporation.

Other sessions topics included hiring process for transit CEOs and APTA’s five-year strategic plan (2010-2014). Michael S. Townes, APTA immediate past chair and president/CEO, Hampton Roads Transit, and Sharon Greene, APTA’s vice chair-business members, chair of the Business Member Board of Governors, and principal, Sharon Greene and Associates, presented the results of APTA’s governance and committee structure task force.

 

 APTA Chair Beverly A. Scott prepares to address the APTA Transit Board Members Seminar and Board Support Employee Development Workshop.

 

Four Sets of Proposed Training Standards Released for Public Review and Comment

The APTA Rail CEOs Committee approved for adoption four sets of proposed rail training guidelines at its meeting during the recent APTA Rail Conference in Chicago.

The Transportation Learning Center worked cooperatively with APTA, transit unions, and public transit agencies across the country to develop proposed national transit industry training guidelines for four high-skill transit rail maintenance occupations. Working over the past several years, joint committees from transit rail operating properties, including both labor and management subject matter experts, agreed on proposed guidelines for transit elevator/escalator technicians, rail vehicle mechanics, signals maintainers, and traction power technicians.

The principal transit unions are also reviewing these proposed guidelines for ratification by their organizations, resulting in jointly adopted industry-wide training guidelines.

The proposed training guidelines will be published online for 30 days to provide transit rail representatives and stakeholders the opportunity to review and comment. They are available on the APTA web site.

Database: More Hybrid Buses in U.S. Transit Fleets

The prevalence of hybrid buses in America’s public transit fleet is increasing, according to APTA’s 2009 Public Transportation Vehicle Database. Nineteen percent of buses built in 2008 were hybrids, with a mix of fueled engine and battery power, compared to less than 5 percent of the total transit bus fleet.

It is clear that the transit industry is moving toward greener technology with new bus purchases: over one third of buses listed by responding agencies as being on order are hybrids. In addition to hybrid vehicles, the database shows that more than 30 percent of new buses run on alternative fuels, compared to 25 percent of the total bus fleet.

This movement toward green technology underscores the key role of the public transit industry in reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and decreasing the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

The Public Transportation Vehicle Database is a comprehensive survey of APTA’s transit members that includes information on revenue vehicle fleet characteristics. All of the top 50 agencies (in terms of ridership) are included in the 2009 data. Of special note is the section on new vehicle purchases and future orders, a valuable resource for the transit vehicle manufacturing industry that is not collected anywhere else.

The information can be downloaded from APTA’s bookstore.