On January 4, 2012, the City of Alexandria's Department of Transportation & Environmental Services (T&ES), Office of Environmental Quality (OEQ) announced the top environmental achievements for 2011. DASH was included in the top ten list for its purchase of ten-new low-floor hybrid DASH buses and five-new low-floor hybrid trolleys.
DASH purchased seven 35-foot hybrid buses, three 40-foot hybrid buses and the city purchased five 30-foot hybrid trolleys in 2011. The hybrid buses will replace the oldest buses in the fleet. The hybrid buses feature a wider body and low-floor entry with no steps for improving accessibility for persons with disabilities and senior citizens and passenger boarding and alighting, the first bike racks on DASH buses, and a simple, reliable low-maintenance wheelchair ramp instead of the older model hydraulic wheelchair lift. The 40-foot buses will operate on the AT8 route, where increases in ridership have led overcrowding on a number of trips. The trolleys will go in to service in April 2012, when DASH will begin operating the King Street Trolley. The DASH buses will operate on an environmentally-friendly mix of ultra-low sulfur diesel and electricity.
The hybrid buses were purchased primarily with Commonwealth of Virginia State Urban Funds. Alexandria Transit also partnered with the city of Alexandria Department of Environmental Quality and secured an EPA Stimulus Grant that funds the difference in the cost between the hybrid technology and a conventional diesel powered engine, a difference of approximately $200,000 per bus. The five trolley buses were purchased with American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) Stimulus funds.
The City's list included the following environmental achievements:
1. The GenOn PRGS Permanent Closure - The city and GenOn Energy reached an agreement in August 2011 to permanently close the company's Potomac River Generating Station by October 1, 2012.
2. Solid Waste Recycling Rate - The city reported its highest ever recycling rate of 41.4 percent to the Virginia DEQ for CY 2010.
3. New Hybrid DASH Buses and King Street Trolleys – DASH purchased and received seven 35-foot hybrid buses, three 40-foot hybrid buses and the city purchased five 30-foot hybrid trolleys.
4. EECBG Projects – Using funds received from the Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program, the city carried out several green initiatives.
5. City Continued to Green its Facilities and Promote Green Building Construction – With the new Alexandria Police Department, Community Building at Four Mile Run Park and the Green Building Policy.
6. Alexandria Joins Capital Bikeshare - On October 11, the Alexandria City Council voted to authorize Alexandria to join the regional Capital Bikeshare network, beginning with implementing a pilot program providing six bikeshare stations with 54 bikes to the city.
7. Pocket Park Improvements - The city, in partnership with the community, enhanced two pocket parks acquired through open space funds for the Commonwealth/Reed Avenue Park and the Del Ray Avenue Pocket Park Phase 1 Site Improvements.
8. Alexandria Sanitation Authority Strived to Enhance Sustainable Practices - In 2011, ASA reused more than a billion gallons of treated wastewater on the treatment plant site, thus minimizing the need to use potable water. It also reused 22,500 tons of biosolids produced on agricultural farmland in Virginia, reducing the need for commercial fertilizers.
9. Alexandria Recognized as Silver-Level Walk Friendly Community - Alexandria was recently recognized as a Walk Friendly Community by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC), as one of ten communities recognized across the nation in the September 2011 awards.
10. VML Platinum Certification - For the fourth straight year, the City earned Platinum level certification, the highest level, in Virginia Municipal League (VML) Green Government Challenge.