APTA Kicks Off Earth Week By Recognizing Public Transportation Organizations for Achievements in Sustainability

April 16, 2018
In honor of Earth Week, the American Public Transportation Association recognized three public transportation organizations for their notable achievements in sustainability.

In honor of Earth Week, the American Public Transportation Association recognized three public transportation organizations for their notable achievements in sustainability. The three organizations, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, Caltrain, and SamTrans, each received a Silver Level recognition for their measurable sustainability achievements. They are participants in APTA's Sustainability Commitment program, a voluntary program for public transit agencies and businesses to commit to environmental, social, and economic sustainability actions.

The APTA Sustainability Commitment program was started in 2009 and currently has 143 signatories. Based on measurable achievements, 41 of these agencies have received recognition at either Platinum, Gold, Silver, or Bronze levels. With this announcement, there are now 15 Silver Level recipients.

"Public transportation is central to sustainable communities," said Paul Skoutelas, president and CEO of the American Public Transportation Association. "When public transportation organizations make commitments to environmental, social, and economic sustainability, they contribute to making our communities more livable. I commend these organizations for their commitment to sustainability and am proud to recognize them for their leadership. They prove that sustainability is both good for the environment and good for business."

Below is more information about the sustainability efforts of each of the organizations.


MARTA reduced water usage by 27 percent when they made three key changes: implementing storm water management plans at each of their facilities; improving train wash requirements and water treatment plant operations; and installing bus wash water reclamation systems. MARTA has also developed community programs at Five Points, including public gardens for local high schoolers to tend as part of their curriculum and soccer fields for community members. Additionally, MARTA promotes multimodal transit around Atlanta beyond MARTA services by partnering with the City of Atlanta in the Bike Share program. Bike fix-it stations and bike racks have been installed at all rail stations and ensure that MARTA rail and buses allow easy bike transport with bike racks and stabilizing areas.


In 2017, Caltrain expanded its use of renewable electricity by partnering with three Community Choice Energy Programs and two municipal utilities, which will supply 100 percent renewable power from sources such as solar, wind, and small hydroelectric. Through this effort, Caltrain will reduce its carbon footprint from electricity use by approximately 20 percent. The agency was also able to realize a 48 percent reduction per passenger miles traveled in water usage. This was accomplished by introducing train wash systems that recycle 80 percent of water used; using water conserving faucet aerators in administrative offices; and installing 'smart' irrigation controllers for landscaping, along with other water efficiency measures.


SamTrans has worked to improve the overall sustainability of the agency through a variety of initiatives over the past seven years. The organization reduced its criteria air pollutant emissions by 31 percent per passenger miles traveled by adding 25 diesel-electric hybrid buses to its fleet in 2013 and 2014, which save fuel and produce less nitrogen oxide emissions, inhalable particulates and greenhouse gas emissions. In early 2018, SamTrans retrofitted 131 diesel buses with SensoTop software that increases mileage per gallon and reduces fuel consumption through optimal gear shifting. SamTrans conservatively estimates the software will save approximately 18,750 gallons of diesel annually.

In 2015, SamTrans received the BizSMART@Work Award from Recology and RethinkWaste for achievements in waste management. In recent years, SamTrans partnered with local entities to create the Connect, Redwood City! program that aims to expands the use of car share, short-distance vanpools, and a revamped telecommute program for San Mateo County employees. The goal of the program is to provide residents, visitors, and local employees with easy and convenient options to travel around Redwood City through sustainable modes of transportation.