The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) recognized six organizations for their outstanding achievements in sustainability. Public transit agencies and businesses voluntarily participate in the APTA Sustainability Commitment program and pledge to implement processes and actions that create continuous improvements in environmental, social and economic sustainability.
Based on specific measurable achievements, organizations are given Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze Level recognition.
The two public transit systems receiving Gold Level recognition are Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority (Ann Arbor, Mich.) and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (San Jose, Calif.).
The two Silver Level recipients are Oakland, Calif.’s Bay Area Rapid Transit and the Calif.-based Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus. The two Bronze Level recipients are St. Petersburg, Fla.’s Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority Cincinnati’s Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority.
First started in 2009, 133 public transit agencies and businesses have signed on to the APTA Sustainability Commitment. Currently, 38 signatories have received recognition.
"Sustainability is not only good for the environment but also makes good business sense," said Richard A. White, American Public Transportation Association acting president/CEO. "Congratulations to these six public transportation systems for being leaders in sustainability. They are making their communities more sustainable and serving as models for the public transit industry."
- TheRide reduced its water usage by 43% over the last five years, in part, by using graywater instead of fresh, potable water in its bus washer. In addition, electricity usage was reduced by 18%. Through continued investment in upgrading its bus fleet to include 60% electric hybrid buses, TheRide also realized reductions in criteria air pollutants by one-third and cut fuel consumption by 15%. In 2014, TheRide rebuilt its Blake Transit Center to LEED Gold for BD+C standards featuring a snowmelt system to reduce the use of salt during the winter months and graywater collection for use in the facility's non-potable water needs in the facility. Additionally, TheRide has increased bus services and collaborated extensively with numerous partners in the greater Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti community, including the University of Michigan, to encourage greater public transit use and improve first/last mile connections to public transit stations.
- VTA reduced water usage by nearly 39% compared to the 2008 baseline year through an increase in drought-resistant landscaping, recycled water for bus washing, reduced irrigation levels, and an overall retrofit to its irrigation equipment and plumbing fixtures. Compared to 2008, the agency realized an impressive 57% reduction in waste production and a 27% increase in recycling rates, in part, through composting at one of its cafeterias and an expansion of its recycling program. VTA also installed numerous on-site solar panels at various facilities and participated in a residential solar group share program for its employees. VTA was a founding signatory of the APTA Sustainability Commitment in 2009.
- BART is committed to using more renewable power. BART has installed solar photo voltaic systems at two of its maintenance shops (250 and 267 kW) and at the Union City station bus canopy (150 kW) and has plans for more throughout the system. The agency has also reduced electricity demand by implementing lighting retrofits at its facilities. The agency is committed to transit-oriented development and is engaged in a total of 18 development projects with eight completed and many others under development. In response to stormwater quality issues, BART is incorporating bioretention areas at stations and parking lots to capture and treat runoff. The agency extensively promotes riding BART and provides a carbon calculator for riders to estimate the greenhouse gas savings realized by riding BART over driving. BART was a founding signatory of the APTA Sustainability Commitment in 2009.
- Big Blue Bus received Silver Level recognition this year for its commitment to greening its fleet through alternative fuel vehicles. In 2013, Big Blue Bus retired the last of its diesel vehicles from its fleet, and now uses Renewable Natural Gas (RNG), a bio-gas derived from harvested landfill methane, to fuel its natural gas fleet. Big Blue Bus also installed 70 kw of solar photovoltaics at its bus facility and incorporated solar power at many of its bus stops.
- PSTA upgraded its reporting system that tracks the agency's utilities and other key sustainability indicators on a monthly basis. The agency also expanded its transportation disadvantaged program to help reduce the cost of transportation for low income residents in Pinellas County, increasing participation from 2,000 to 5,800 riders per month. PSTA was a founding signatory of the APTA Sustainability Commitment in 2009.
- SORTA has initiated audits of solid waste and energy at its facilities. The agency is pursuing investments to bale cardboard that saves the agency money through fewer recycling pick-ups while generating income from bale sales. As a result of its extensive recycling program, employees diverted 47,600 pounds of waste from the landfill in just eight months. The agency has plans to install LED lighting upgrades at two facilities. SORTA also engages employees around sustainability through its employee orientation program and quarterly outreach events.