Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb discusses the agency's work to meet clean air goals
Passenger cars and other vehicles are Minnesota’s second-largest source of greenhouse gases, a leading cause of climate change and air pollution. And while advances in technology have led to a steady decline in vehicle emissions, there’s still a lot more to be done.
As an agency, Metro Transit is helping the state meet its clean air goals primarily by offering convenient alternatives to driving alone, providing more than 280,000 rides each weekday.
But the commitment to the environment doesn’t end there. In fact, Metro Transit has a well-deserved reputation for being one of the most sustainability-minded transit agencies in the country. The agency has achieved Gold Level status in the American Public Transportation Association's Sustainability Commitment program.
As we celebrate Earth Day this week, we wanted to share a few of the other ways we’re reducing our environmental impact:
> For the past year, we’ve collected compostable materials like food scraps and paper napkins at our Heywood Office, Transit Control Center and Transfer Road facilities. Along with traditional recycling efforts, we’re keeping about two-thirds of what we toss from ending up in the waste stream. We plan to expand these composting and recycling efforts to each of our garages and other support facilities later this year.
> By the end of this year, around 75 percent of the fixtures at our support and customer facilities will be equipped with energy-efficient LED lighting. This lighting not only uses less energy but is longer-lasting and less-costly to maintain.
> We continue to install small solar panels at waiting shelters to power lighting at these locations. We also continue to explore opportunities to put more solar panels on the rooftops of our support and public facilities (above, panels at the Maplewood Mall Transit Center and Park & Ride). Coupled with the energy we purchase from solar installations at Council-owned sites, we are on track to achieve our goal of having all our energy needs met by renewable resources as early as 2040.
> As part of our C Line project, we plan to purchase eight fully-electric buses and install charging equipment at the Heywood Garage and Brooklyn Center Transit Center later this year. We’ll also be adding more electric vehicles to our non-revenue fleet and consider buying electric buses as we replace older vehicles and expand our service.
> Fleetwide fuel economy continues to improve, from just under 4 miles per gallon in 2008 to nearly 5 miles per gallon in 2017. We recently began using synthetic engine oil in our buses, a change that allows us to use less oil by doubling the interval between oil changes. New engine technologies and advanced exhaust filtration systems have also significantly reduced the amount of harmful emissions coming from our buses.
> The new Metro Transit Police Headquarters will be our most sustainable building ever, with a geothermal system that heats and cools the building, natural lighting and other energy-saving features. Designs for a new service garage north of Heywood also call for a host of energy-saving features.
> Later this month, we’ll begin using technology that will allow us to capture and re-use more of the energy produced when Blue Line trains brake, a system that could be incorporated into future light rail extensions.
Thank you to all our customers who are doing part to support the environment by riding with us. We share your commitment to the environment and hope to continue building on that commitment in the years to come.
Learn more about Metro Transit's fuel efficient and upcoming all-electric vehicles along with other environmental improvements at metrotransit.org/GoGreener.
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