Breaking America’s “addiction to oil” addresses two concerns these days, with high fuel prices representing one edge of the sword and climate change concerns representing the other. And the role of public transit in mitigating the impact of record-high fuel prices and in reducing tailpipe emissions has never been stronger.
Andrew Savitz, senior consultant at Sustainable Business Practices in Brook-line, Mass., spoke about sustainability, clean energy and transportation during a panel discussion at APTA’s Bus & Para-transit Conference in Nashville, Tenn.
Savitz discussed the worldwide impact companies make when they decide to “go green,” or, conversely, when they fail to do so. He stressed that now is the perfect time for the industry to focus on its sustainability measures.
Kevin Desmond, general manager for Seattle-based King County Metro, ex-plained his agency’s sustainability pro-grams, including its use of hybrids as well as canola-based biodiesel that will be grown in-state.
Also in attendance was FTA Administrator James Simpson, who applauded the FTA’s new small starts program, which funds projects costing $250 million and less, and the agency’s additional $100 million investment in hydrogen fuel-cell research.
A former tractor-trailer driver, Simpson placed second in the International Bus Roadeo’s inaugural amateur category. He finished behind Fred Gilliam, president of Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority in Austin, Texas, and in front of Paul Ballard, CEO of Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority.
Safety, security and emergency preparedness also played a major role in this year’s conference program. Several sessions touched on various facets of those topics, including innovations available for the public transit industry, an update on APTA and the FTA’s partnership on safety program, and emergency preparedness.
A session on emergency preparedness challenged those in the room to not only find out what their area’s emergency program entails, but to find out their role in it and what steps they need to take to prepare for their role.