Industry Forums

Silver Spring, Md.
Rudy Woodward
VP of Technical Services
Veolia Transportation

Taking steps for the planet: Veolia Transportation North America’s 2008 Sustainable Development Initiatives

As concern for the environment gains momentum on both sides of the Atlantic and around the world, Veolia Transportation North America is quickly becoming recognized as a leader in sustainable development. Fast, convenient public transportation is a key to reducing dependence on fossil fuels and solving the global climate crisis. We have worked hard to make our name synonymous with efficient, innovative sustainability solutions.

Veolia Transportation North America launched its sustainable development program in 2007. First steps included checking out industry trends and researching what could be done to make a difference. Benchmark information was gathered and presentations were hosted to build awareness. The Advantage Series, a collection of professional technical manuals dedicated exclusively to sustainability, was created and circulated to staff and clients.

Veolia Transportation’s Sustainable Development program accelerated in 2008 with the launch of many more initiatives, all aimed at building a culture of sustainability.

Our Sustainable Development Charter, a powerful statement publicly affirming our commitment to protecting the environment and promoting solutions, was developed.

Our Advantage Series was expanded with the creation of The Green Garage Advantage and The Idle Reduction Advantage. The Green Garage Advantage focuses on best management practices in new and existing garages, and contains valuable information to help shop managers and employees do their jobs in a greener way. The Idle Reduction Advantage demonstrates how adopting an idle reduction strategy will help us lower harmful emissions, plus save on fuel and maintenance.

An updated version of The Biodiesel Advantage was released in November, reflecting changes in the fast-moving world of alternative fuels.

Quicklists and checklists were developed for several Advantage Series manuals. These summarize the key priorities and action items of the manuals, providing a quick-and-simple reference for all employees to understand and use best sustainability practices in vehicles, facilities and offices. Both are serving as the basis for green action plans at locations across the country.

A series of colorful posters and Green Team cards were created to promote sustainability in offices and facilities.

A “CO2L” ad campaign was developed to help our clients promote the environmental benefits of public transit.

Veolia Transportation’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. In 2008, more clients, industry-groups and Veolia colleagues from around the globe than ever before inquired about our Sustainable Development programs, materials and presentations.

In February, a California Working Group was formed, comprised of Veolia Transportation executives and managers from several locations. The group attended the Carbon Forum America conference in San Francisco, and learned how important carbon management will become for businesses of every kind as the United States tackles climate change more aggressively.

Veolia Transportation is playing an influential role in APTA’s Standards Working Group on Climate Change. This group is responsible for helping the public transportation sector prepare for a new era of sustainability and greenhouse gas measurement.

In July, Veolia Transportation took part in APTA’s 5th annual Sustainability and Public Transportation Workshop, the industry’s premier best practices event. Ruth Otte, executive VP, Marketing & Communications, introduced the luncheon keynote speaker and Mitun Seguin, director of marketing services, delivered a presentation on the market for sustainability.
In 2008, Veolia Transportation completed dozens of additional sustainable development activities across the country:

Nearly 50 site visits and environmental investigations were carried out.

Environmental audits were completed for 100 percent of our facilities, and follow-up actions were taken where warranted.

Veolia Transportation worked with Paris colleagues to develop a world-class CO2 emissions calculator validated by Ernst & Young.

As concern for the environment increases, it is clearer than ever that public transportation will play a crucial role in providing sustainable mobility solutions. Veolia Transportation is at the forefront, and is committed to providing continued leadership and innovation. Sustainable development is important for our business — but it is also critical for the well-being of our children.

Schaumburg, Ill.
Michael Melaniphy
Vice President Public Sector
Motor Coach Industries

As the leading builder of commuter coaches supplying the public transportation industry, Motor Coach Industries is committed to sustainability in product innovation, factory operations and through its service center practices. At MCI, going green has been part of our culture for several generations.

A longtime leader in alternate propulsion technology, MCI’s experience goes back as far as the 1970s when the U.S. Department of Energy partnered with MCI to produce a small fleet of MC-8s fitted with Allison GT404-3 gas turbine power plants in lieu of the traditional diesel engines. In the 1980s and early 1990s, MCI’s TMC division produced ethanol-, methanol- and CNG-powered transit buses. In 1998, MCI once again partnered with the U.S. D.O.E. as well as the California Energy Commission to produce a test fleet of dual fuel natural gas commuter coaches for use in Santa Barbara County, Calif. This accomplishment was followed by the production of 77 CNG commuter coaches for New Jersey Transit in 1999 and 2000. In 2002, MCI brought the industry the very first hybrid drive commuter coaches in the form of four 40-foot D-Series models for New Jersey Transit.

More recently, MCI introduced the very first 45-foot heavy-duty three-axle hybrid commuter coach. Today, there are more than 100 MCI hybrid coaches operating in daily transit commuter service. The current hybrid model is quieter and uses the latest clean-diesel engine technology from Cummins along with the Allison Ep50 electric drive propulsion system.

Alternative power extends beyond the engine. Specifically for the hybrid coaches Houston Metro, MCI and supplier partners Sundyne and Carrier jointly developed an electric air-conditioning system that can operate either off of the coach’s electrical system or by plugging the coach into an external outlet while it is parked. This eliminates the need to idle the coach in order to cool it between runs, reducing the coach’s fuel usage and the carbon footprint.

Today, MCI’s new-generation D- Series commuter coaches are offered with an ultra-low-sulfur diesel engine or a hybrid drive system. Both versions have been Altoona tested and are available in Buy America-compliant configurations.

In 2007, MCI redesigned the cooling package on the D-Series coach, reducing the parasitic draw on the engine by 30 percent to further improve emission reductions. Now, MCI is preparing to incorporate the cleaner, greener engines that have been designed by their manufacturers to meet the EPA requirement to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by more than 80 percent starting in 2010.

On the production line, MCI has replaced solvent-based materials with water-based substitutes to install coach carpeting, fabric and other trim. MCI has been testing a different vehicle undercoating system and has changed the paint it uses to reduce volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Since 2006, MCI has reduced its per coach VOC emissions to the environment by more than 20 percent.

MCI’s Winnipeg plant has long relied upon hydro-electric power, which is generally thought to be more sustainable than most other common energy sources. The MCI plants are also raising the environmental bar in other ways. There are action plans in place to improve air quality, air temperature control and noise abatement. This past year alone, the Winnipeg plant has installed several new heating systems and air curtain doors. The plant is also testing sound-absorbent blankets and is finding replacements for noisy tools and hammering, decreasing decibel noise levels by up to 15 percent in some instances.

MCI is also taking steps to reduce waste, especially at its service centers. The oil and metal from oil filters are recycled along with all antifreeze. The service centers have also switched to aqueous cleaners.

Still, perhaps the greenest thing about MCI remains its product. The MCI D-Series commuter coach embodies transportation efficiency and energy conservation by helping public transit agencies and their riders reduce their carbon footprint, and that’s a positive impact on the environment and everyone’s quality of life.

Manager’s Forum goes to the front lines of the transit industry to get feedback on different topics relevant to passenger transportation — and we want to hear from you! If you have an idea for discussion or would like to voice your opinion, please contact Leah Harnack at 262.391.8770 or via email at