SEPTA Releases 4th Annual Sustainability Report

April 22, 2015

Featuring First-Ever Cycle-Transit Plan

UPDATE: SEPTA Planner Becky Collins was nominated by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia as a person "behind the scenes" working hard to make Philadelphia a great place to be a cyclist. Vote for Becky here!

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This week, SEPTA releases its fourth Sustainability Annual Report. The report chronicles a year of progress towards SEPTA's twelve sustainability goals. Because SEPTA is committed to sustaining a comprehensive triple bottom line sustainability agenda, each goal is categorized into one of the three pillars of sustainability (environmental-social-economic).

In 2014 SEPTA made significant strides towards achieving several of the sustainability goals. The full report can be read here. A summary of 2014 progress is available below:

Environmental: In 2014, SEPTA continued to implement initiatives outlined in the 2012 Energy Action Plan. New hybrid vehicles and energy efficient lighting retrofits at SEPTA facilities and on SEPTA vehicles helped to decrease energy consumption and reduce Green House Gas (GHG) emissions.

SEPTA continues to invest in infrastructure that reduces the amount of stormwater runoff at SEPTA stations and bus loops. In 2014, seventy trees were planted on or adjacent to SEPTA stations. Tree pits are one type of green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) project that reduces stormwater runoff at SEPTA stations. Larger GSI projects include an underground rain water storage tank at the 23rd and Venango bus loop.

Recycling rates at SEPTA improved from 13.6% in FY2013 to 14% in 2014. This was a result of increased wood recycling at all of SEPTA's internal maintenance shops and depots, a new recycling program that focuses on recycling industrial hard plastics at bus maintenance shops and depots, and increased single stream recycling throughout the Authority.

Social: SEPTA invested in several projects that directly improved the livability of the Philadelphia region. New elevators at Dilworth Park help customer access transit at City Hall and 15th Street Stations. The renovated bus loop at 23rd and Venango is a public transportation hub that supports the recently constructed Salvation Army KROC Center of Philadelphia. Lastly, the Manayunk Bridge will be converted into a bicycle and pedestrian trail that will link the Cynwyd Heritage Trail with the Schuylkill River Trail.

Farmers markets hosted by SEPTA improved access to local, fresh food. In 2014, SEPTA hosted a total of five farmers markets on SEPTA property - at Frankford Transportation Center, Olney Transportation Center, 46th Street Station, SEPTA Headquarters, and Snyder Station.

Intern SEPTA invested in several projects that directly improved the livability of the Philadelphia regional workforce development initiatives continue to build momentum as SEPTA prepares for a wave of retirements. Participation in the annual Philly Spring Clean-Up Day and Philabundance Food Drive continues to build a culture of volunteerism. Proactive outreach to women- and minority-owned businesses through the DBE Program Office continues to extend the benefits of workforce development initiatives to the broader regional business community.

Economic: While the number of SEPTA trips per southeastern Pennsylvania resident dropped slightly in 2014, non-auto mode share increased, signaling a continued trend away from car use for commute-based trips.
SEPTA continues to outperform the U.S. transit industry in controlling operating expenses, with growth in expenses per trip largely mirroring the rate inflation for the Philadelphia region. The passage of Pennsylvania Act 89 of 2013 continues to pace capital investments in rebuilding the system for the future, and an additional infusion of $87 million from the Federal Transit Administration has seed-funded an infrastructure resilience program designed to mitigate the impact of extreme weather events in the future.

A Commitment to Continual Improvement: SEPTA is committed to reaching the current sustainability goals and continually reevaluating the sustainability program in order to guarantee positive momentum. Through innovation and employee commitment to sustainability, SEPTA will ensure its continued position as an industry leader in sustainable best practices and policies.

SEPTA's Cycle-Transit Plan: A key focus of SEPTA's Sustainability Program in 2014 was the development of its first-ever Cycle-Transit Plan, a comprehensive blueprint to better serve the growing demand for multi-modal commuting and recreational travel in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Integrating with livable communities by expanding their non-automotive mobility alternatives is a key objective of SEPTA's Sustainability Program.

For SEPTA, better integration between bicycle and transit networks is also an efficient and sustainable strategy to increase system capacity. "At a time when SEPTA's ridership is near quarter-century highs and auto parking lots are approaching maximum utilization, encouraging cycle-transit use can serve as a cost effective strategy to grow ridership," said General Manager Joseph M. Casey. "Proactive planning and implementation of this Cycle-Transit Plan is another step in a positive direction towards SEPTA's vision of being the region's preferred choice for transportation."

A full report can be read here. Feedback is appreciated. Any questions or comments should be directed to sustainability@septa.org.

2014 By the Numbers:

144,467,677: Pounds of carbon avoided by riding SEPTA
$87,000,000: Competitive grant funding received through FTA's Emergency Relief Program and Disaster Relief Appropriations.
$197,803: Total cumulative rebates received from PECO for energy efficiency investments
$42,000: Projected annual savings from retrofitting Market-Frankford Line cars with LEDs.
30,000: Pounds of food distributed through Walnut Hill Community Farm CSA
21,870: "Seniors Ride Free" passes issued
697: Family and friends participating in Philly Spring Clean-Up Day
504: Number of hybrid-electric vehicles
395: The number of Certified/Continued Eligibility Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE)
81: Average annual trips per capita taken on SEPTA
70: Trees planted at 5 project sites
23: Tons of food collected from passengers and employees for Philabundance
14%: Waste diversion rate at passenger stations and employee facilities 12.7%: Percent of employees that commute to work via public transit in southeastern Pennsylvania
8.12: Pounds of carbon displaced per trip by the average SEPTA rider
5: Farmers markets on SEPTA property
1: SEPTA Cycle-Transit Plan released