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Metro Transit grabs a gold for its actions to protect the environment

Summary

King County Metro is not only getting you there, it’s doing it with less energy, waste and pollution – reasons it is being recognized as the gold-standard for sustainability by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

Story

Industry recognition puts Metro in elite group for sustainable achievement

King County Metro is not only getting you there, it’s doing it with less energy, waste and pollution – reasons it is being recognized as the gold-standard for sustainability by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

Metro joins an elite group of transit agencies in the U.S. being recognized by APTA for stepping up to voluntarily reduce their environmental footprint. Metro is one of eight transit organizations to achieve this second highest level of national recognition, trailing only Los Angeles in actions being taken by the industry to protect the environment. 

APTA’s Sustainability Commitment Program recognizes public transit agencies and businesses that voluntarily make a commitment to put processes and actions in place that result in continuous improvement on environmental, social, and economic sustainability.

“King County Metro has become one of the greenest fleets in America, and this award recognizes our legacy of environmental action – from pioneering the nation’s largest public vanpool program, to powering our trolley and hybrid bus fleets with the cleanest technologies available,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.

Metro’s sustainability efforts start with its vehicle fleet. For nearly a decade, it has operated the nation’s largest fleet of articulated hybrid buses and the second largest electric trolley system. Over the past five years, this mix of hybrids and trolleys has cut carbon emissions by more than 830,000 metric tons. 

And the investment in green technology has been good for the bottom line. Metro estimates it was able to save about $4.8 million last year by using fuel-saving hybrid technology. Metro’s electric trolleys saved an additional $1 million in 2012 due to higher energy efficiency and the lower cost of electricity relative to diesel fuel.

Operating the nation’s largest public rideshare program has produced additional environmental benefits – the program provides more than 3 million passenger trips a year resulting in a 20,000 metric ton reduction of CO2 and 50 million fewer miles logged on area roads. More recently Metro also added 20 zero-emission electric vehicles to its commuter van fleet.

It takes a lot of water to keep a bus fleet the size of Metro’s clean. So as another sustainability measure, Metro has cut water usage by about 40-50 million gallons per year - the equivalent of about 75 Olympic-size swimming pools - by re-using vehicle washwater. 

And Metro has learned that smaller things also count and can save money – like its massive effort to use and recycle more than 600 tons of waste per year, replacing older light bulbs with more efficient lighting at its facilities, adhering to national LEED standards, encouraging bicycle use - and even turning bus base roofs into green open space.

“Metro’s commitment to be at the forefront in protecting the environment has allowed us to raise the bar for the entire public transportation industry – something each and every one of our employees can take credit for,” said Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond.  

Desmond also chairs APTA’s Sustainability Committee that serves as a leader in mobilizing transit industry action on this issue.

Desmond will accept the gold recognition on behalf of Metro at APTA’s sustainability workshop July 28 in San Francisco.