The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) was recognized Monday for its sustainability achievements by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). SEPTA GM Joseph Casey was presented with the Gold Recognition Level of the APTA Sustainability Commitment program.
Public transit agencies and businesses that participate in this program on a voluntary basis make a commitment to putting processes and actions into place which allow for continuous improvement on environmental, social, and economic sustainability.
“SEPTA is only the fourth public transit system to achieve the Gold Recognition Level,” said King County Metro Transit GM Kevin Desmond, who serves as the chair of the APTA Sustainability Committee and presented the award. “SEPTA is a national leader in sustainability, and employees and riders should be very proud.”
The three other public transportation systems that have received the gold recognition level are: TransLink (Vancouver, B.C.), Intercity Transit (Olympia, Wash.), and Sound Transit (Seattle).
SEPTA was a founding signatory of the Sustainability Commitment program in 2009 and has since put in place a full-scale sustainability program that has significantly reduced its environmental footprint. These gains led SEPTA to achieve gold level recognition from APTA, the highest level that public transit systems have achieved so far for significant reductions in areas such as energy, water use, and waste.
In addition to having the second largest hybrid-electric bus fleet in the U.S., SEPTA achieved a 19.7% reduction in water usage per passenger miles traveled (PMT); a 10.0% reduction in fuel use per PMT; a 4.0% reduction in electricity use per PMT; and 3.6% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions per PMT.
SEPTA was recognized for many notable projects, including the implementation of the Wayside Energy Storage program, which is both a cutting-edge strategy to reduce energy consumption and an innovative revenue-generating opportunity. SEPTA and Viridity Energy, a Philadelphia-based smart grid firm, implemented a pilot project to develop wayside energy storage technology to capture, store, and reuse electricity generated from regenerative braking on trains on the Market-Frankford Line. With more than $250,000 in annual energy savings, this program could be replicated at additional substations.
“Through this pilot project, SEPTA will become even more energy efficient, which will help control operating costs — benefiting both customers and taxpayers,” said SEPTA's Casey. “We’ve made our system cleaner, greener, and more efficient in recent years through such efforts as replacing traditional diesel buses with diesel-electric hybrids and installing energy-efficient lighting at stations, facilities, and offices. These measures are helping us control costs in tough economic conditions and making us a better neighbor in the communities we serve."