Sustainability In A Fast and Ever-Changing World
I am frequently asked the question: What does transit have to do with sustainability?
My response is: everything.
SEPTA is in the business of sustainability. Each of our buses, trolleys, and trains provides residents of Greater Philadelphia with an alternative to the automobile - a more affordable, socially responsible, and environmentally friendly way to travel. Our services take cars off the road, reducing congestion, supporting livable communities, and enhance the overall quality of life in our great region.
At SEPTA, we have come to embrace sustainability as an all-encompassing objective. When we bought our first hybrid-electric bus in 2002, it demonstrated what many of us at SEPTA believed for a long time - that the future of transit depends on its ability to provide the most efficient means of getting somewhere. Six years later, we have come to understand that the real benefits of that purchase - and of transit in general - extend well beyond fuel economy. SEPTA empowers residents to achieve financial independence, develop healthy lifestyles, and reside in clean and livable communities. For these reasons, we believe SEPTA is the key to our region's long-term sustainability.
There has never been a better time to integrate sustainability into our regional agenda. Economic doubts and environmental degradation have touched our world. Concerns over resource scarcity, financial stability, and national security have become heightened as a sense of uncertainty continues to cloud recovery.
At SEPTA, we too find ourselves in a position of uncertainty. Regional unemployment has eroded ridership gains in prior years, while a sudden shortfall in state transportation funding has left a $110 million gap in SEPTA's capital program. Constraints have resulted in cutbacks on previously-planned projects funded through the operating and capital budgets.
SEPTA cannot afford to wait for funding fixes or economic recovery. The region cannot afford further decline of its transit system infrastructure. The economic, social, and environmental challenges facing SEPTA as an organization, and Greater Philadelphia as a region, are far too important to depend on external influences to determine our fate.
Our focus on sustainability will help shape SEPTA's future. By proactively mitigating environmental impacts, building a versatile workforce, and ensuring fiscal stability, SEPTA will become a more competitive transit system and serve as an attractive mobility alternative. A more competitive transit system, in turn, will improve environmental stewardship, create livable communities, and increase economic prosperity across Greater Philadelphia. In other words, by becoming more sustainable now, SEPTA will be prepared for - and indeed help create - a more environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable future for the entire region.
Joseph M. Casey