A new national certification program is helping transportation companies nationwide reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve vehicle energy efficiency and save money. The eRating certification program, which recently completed its inaugural vehicle certification cycle, was developed by the University of Vermont Extension Certification for
Sustainable Transportation (CST) program.
"The eRating certification program is the first of its kind to provide eco-certification for the passenger transportation sector," explains CST Director David Kestenbaum. "Just l ike an Energy Star label might help a consumer identify the most efficient appliance for their kitchen, the eRating program helps them choose the most sustainable vehicles and way to travel."
CST was founded in 2012 to help improve economic, environmental and energy efficiency within the sector. The program accomplishes this through the eRating vehicle certification initiative and educational programs that certify
drivers who learn techniques to improve fuel economy such as limiting aggressive accelerations and idling.
To date CST has worked with more than 50 transportation companies in 26 states. The program can help businesses increase market-place visibility and generate cost savings through improved efficiencies at their operations.
The eRating vehicle certification is voluntary and uses an index that measures several criteria including the use of low-
emissions technology, alternative fuels and greenhouse gas emissions calculated per passenger mile.
"Our certification algorithm takes multiple factors into consideration, allowing some vehicles to qualify at the time of
manufacture, such as a high-performing electric car or a bicycle," Kestenbaum says. "Other vehicles might qualify because they are being used efficiently, for example, a bus service that carries 30 to 60 people at a time. These are all different types of vehicles, but this methodology allows us to use one system to make comparisons across modes,
so consumers can have a better understanding of the most environmentally sensitive transportation options."
A number of small and large transportation providers were part of CST's inaugural class from pedicab operators in New York City and Portland, Oregon, to some of the largest bus and motorcoach companies in the country including
Coach USA and Megabus.com. To date, CST has issued more than 10,000 vehicle and/or driver certifications to participants.
CST credits great relationships with the American Bus Association (ABA), the United Motorcoach Association (UMA) and other groups for helping this Vermont-based program develop networks and grow nationwide.
"About one-third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector," says Vic Parra, UMA president. "We believe it's important to be out front in promoting environmentally responsible travel. By removing as many as 50 cars for each bus operating on our nation's already crowded highways, we are reducing congestion as well as emissions, particularly with our newer engines that have reduced the particulate emissions from diesel
buses exponentially in recent years."
"Consumers are thinking about protecting the environment when they decide what mode of transportation to use to get to their destination," adds ABA President/CEO Peter Pantuso. "Motorcoaches are the best choice. CST's eRating vehicle certification provides operators with a university-backed, third-party certification they can use to help raise awareness of how clean their company and the industry are. Another great aspect of the CST is their educational programs that can help companies create efficiencies and save money."
CST hopes to expand these programs to more public transit agencies in all 50 states and directly to bicycle and automobile manufacturers. Additionally, CST is a valuable resource for anyone concerned about the environment, econ
omics, energy independence and efficiency related to passenger transportation.
To learn more about CST and the eRating Certification Program, visit www.erating.org or call (802) 656-9141.
A list of Bus and Motorcoach companies that are part of the Certification for Sustainable Transportation's ‘Inaugural Class:’
Adventure Tours By Dawn, Clinton, Md.
All West Coachlines, Sacramento, Calif.
Amador, Sacramento, Calif.
American Coachlines of Atlanta, Norcross, Ga.
Anderson Coach and Travel, Greenville, Pa.
Butler Motor Transit, Butler, Pa.
C&J Bus Lines,Portsmouth, N.H.
Cardinal Buses, Middlebury, Ind.
Central Cab Company, Waynesburg, Pa.
Chicago Trolley and Double Decker Co., Chicago
Coach USA, Gary, Ind.
Community Coach, Paramus, N.J.
DATTCO, New Britain, Conn.
Dillon’s Bus Service, Hanover, Md.