As the largest year-round fixed-route transit provider in Maine, the Greater Portland Transit District
(METRO) is committed to building a transit fleet that is 100% powered by alternative fuels.
METRO’s reach is considerable. The transit agency provides more than 1.4 million rides per year with its fleet of 32 buses — all of which are equipped with bike racks — and offers nine routes throughout Portland, South Portland, Westbrook and Falmouth. Thirteen of its buses run on compressed natural gas (CNG), and the agency plans to add five more CNG buses to its fleet in January 2014. As METRO grows its CNG fleet, its cost-saving and emission-reduction benefits grow as well.
METRO was an early stakeholder of the local Clean Cities coalition, now known as Maine Clean Communities. Through Clean Cities funding, METRO secured seed money in 2001 to build a CNG fueling station and later to cover the incremental cost of its first five CNG buses, which replaced five aging diesel buses. The agency used FTA funding to upgrade its storage and maintenance facilities in preparation for housing and repairing CNG vehicles.
Maine Clean Communities also helped Portland Public Schools (PPS) acquire its first CNG school buses. PPS currently runs 13 CNG buses, which fill up at METRO’s fueling station and are maintained at METRO’s garage. Tapping into METRO’s infrastructure has allowed PPS to transition to CNG without incurring costly capital expenditures associated with building its own fueling and maintenance facilities. Like METRO, PPS plans to replace its entire diesel fleet with CNG buses.
As METRO grows its CNG fleet, its cost-saving and emission-reduction benefits grow.
These two forward-thinking fleets have been running CNG vehicles and sharing a CNG fueling station for seven years. The pioneering efforts of METRO and PPS set an excellent example for others to follow. In the coming year, two or three more CNG stations will be built in Maine, spurred by fleet demand.
METRO deserves recognition for its leadership and perseverance — in the end, the investment is paying off.
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "5 Easy Tips to Make Public Transit Safer and Greener."
Everyone needs to take a mental and physical break at some point in the workday, whether they’ve been concentrating on a computer screen, the road, or the underside of a bus, truck or train car. The tricky part for transit agencies is that each of these activities takes place in different surroundings, lighting conditions, room temperature and noise levels. With that in mind, consider the following factors in your facility design.
Shifts are long and varying, and facilities are often inadequate for transit employees to truly recharge and stay sharp on the job. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The quality of the environment within facilities can be designed to support shift workers and those with jobs that don’t follow traditional 9-to-5 schedules. Two key elements that can be utilized to support vehicle operator health; creating spaces with adaptability for varied activities and quality lighting that supports the adaptability of the space.
Most transit facilities have a break room for operators to use between shifts — typically an artificially lit space with a TV, vending machines, and cafeteria-style tables and chairs. The trouble is, every person has a different way of relaxing. Besides exposure to daylight and nature, key components of wellbeing are social cohesion and a sense of empowerment. The key here then is to empower employees to choose the best way to relieve their own stress around shifts.
A health and wellness revolution is underway in America. Concurrently, there is a growing public health initiative to promote safer, more accessible recreation facilities and active transit options. Transit agencies are uniquely positioned in the overlap of these two movements. By promoting health and well-being, agencies have an opportunity to show leadership and innovation in a truly holistic approach to total worker health, while benefiting workforce productivity and happiness.
GRTC is a member of the Virginia Clean Cities (VCC) coalition, which over the years has hosted a variety of workshops, webinars and other training opportunities for fleets interested in transitioning to CNG. Another coalition member — the City of Richmond — inaugurated its fleet of CNG refuse haulers in 2011, which set the stage for GRTC’s transition. View the YouTube video to see how VCC helped the city implement its CNG fleet.