SEPTA Board Approves Sustainability Plan

January 26, 2017

SEPTA has reaffirmed its commitment to a sustainable future, with the Board's approval today of a second-generation Sustainability Program Plan for Fiscal Years 2017-2020.

Entitled "SEP-TAINABLE 2020", the plan is a core part of SEPTA's Five-Year Strategic Business Plan. It implements a triple-bottom line approach - economic, social and environmental - to all of SEPTA's efforts. The plan establishes a goal of "budget neutrality," requiring projects to meet a rigorous financial standard of paying for themselves through grants, revenue, or cost savings.

"SEPTA's Sustainability Program has helped the Authority save millions of dollars in operating costs," said SEPTA Board Chairman Pasquale T. Deon. "It has also been extremely valuable in positioning SEPTA to be competitive in grant programs for new initiatives, and we expect that will continue in the coming years."

Infographic from SEP-TAINABLE 2020, Goal 11

"Sustainability is a core principle for SEPTA in our everyday operations, and as we continue efforts to rebuild our system and grow it for future generations," said SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel. "SEP-TAINABLE 2020 will play a key role as we continue to advance critical improvements throughout the SEPTA system."

Infographic from SEP-TAINABLE 2020, Goal 2

The first-generation Sustainability Program Plan, "SEP-TAINABLE", was adopted in January 2011. Notable achievements include:

  • An Energy Action Plan, published in 2012, which has charted a course to implement innovative energy projects such as facility retrofits, wayside energy storage, and battery-electric buses.
  • A Climate Adaptation Plan, published in 2013, which served as the foundation for an $87 million grant award from the Federal Transit Administration to implement an "Infrastructure Resiliency Program".
  • A Cycle-Transit Plan, published in 2015, which has been used as a framework for installation of strategic bike infrastructure at rail stations to encourage ridership growth.
  • An Environmental & Sustainability Management System (ESMS) for the Berridge Shop, which was certified by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) under its globally recognized standard for environmental management.

The proposed second-generation Sustainability Program, SEP-TAINABLE 2020, aims to build on these successes, and adopts aggressive performance targets. Plans include:

  • A Recycling Program refresh, in which SEPTA has begun to strategically install recycling receptacles at employee facilities and passenger stations to increase waste diversion rates and reduce costs associated with a multi-year hauling contract.
  • A 2017 Energy Energy Plan, building off an existing solar proposal to explore budget-neutral opportunities for adoption of renewable energy to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
  • A Stormwater Management Plan, which would seek cost-effective opportunities to reduce fees associated with impervious surfaces through a partnership with the Philadelphia Water Department and strategic implementation of green infrastructure.
  • An expanded ISO-Certified ESMS program to include the Wayne Shop as well as implementation of an "ISO Lite" program to introduce environmental management best practices at all SEPTA facilities.

As with the first-generation plan, the SEP-TAINABLE 2020 program plan has been developed through extensive input, including stakeholder roundtables, a public open house, peer agency benchmarking through APTA, and collaboration with key regional planning partners from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, City of Philadelphia and Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties.