Earth Day: Go Green and Go Metro


Metro held a media event this morning at its Central Maintenance Facility to demonstrate the amount of greenhouse gases reduced when a person takes public transit instead of driving.

The concept of carbon emissions can be a bit abstract, so to make it more tangible, Metro dumped a truckload — or specifically 4,800 lbs.  — of recyclable waste to visualize the impact taking public transit instead of driving has on the environment.

That number is equivalent to the carbon dioxide emissions reduced by an individual who commutes 20 miles daily on transit instead of driving for one year, according to the American Public Transportation Assn., a group that represents transit agencies across the U.S.


Metro’s Earth Day event was held at its Central Maintenance Facility, which features 6,720 individual solar panels on its roof capable of powering 1,000 homes at any time. It is a LEED Gold certified facility. Metro Interim Deputy CEO Stephanie Wiggins and Metro Deputy Executive Officer of Environmental Compliance Services Cris Liban spoke at the event.

•The Earth Day event marked the first appearance of one of Metro’s new test electric buses. The 40-foot all-electric zero-emission bus was the first of five manufactured by BYD Inc. for Metro as part of a pilot program to test clean-air prototype buses. The buses will soon be placed into revenue service as part of their testing and evaluation. Based on their performance, Metro has the option to purchase 20 more.

•Metro officials also highlighted the agency’s upcoming biomethane fuel program. Once implemented, Metro will only purchase its natural gas fuel from biomethane producing facilities. Biomethane is produced by capturing gas that is emitted from landfills, dairies, and wastewater treatment plants. Producing biomethane produces fewer greenhouse gases than traditional drilling for natural gas. Metro’s current bus fleet is entirely powered by compressed natural gas, which is cleaner than the diesel that used to fuel buses.

•As of 2014, Metro’s sustainability efforts result in a 4.3 million gallon reduction in the agency’s water consumption annually, a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 23,000 metric tons a year and a reduction of energy consumption from its facilities of 7 million kilowatt-hours a year. These reductions save taxpayers around $3 million annually. Metro riders are responsible for an estimated reduction of 2.5 million pounds of carbon emissions a year.

•Metro will soon complete construction on its state-of-the-art Division 13 bus operations and maintenance facility, which includes a 275,000 gallon underground storm water retention tank, a vehicle wash system that utilizes 100% recycled water, a green roof garden to curb urban heating effects and high-efficiency solar panels installed on its roof and exterior walls. The facility is expected to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certified.

•By July 2015, all of Metro’s bus and rail maintenance facilities will be International Standards Organization (ISO)-14001 certified, which signifies a level of international excellence in its operations to reduce its environmental impact and safety risks as well as minimizing waste and costs.

•Metro has installed solar panels on four maintenance facilities and the El Monte Station with two more under construction, creating the largest installation of solar panels for a transit agency in the U.S., capable of powering 2,500 homes at any given time.

•Metro is the first public transporation agency that has directly incorporated electric vehicle (EV) charging stations as part of the transit system.

•Metro is the first transit agency in the U.S. to apply flywheel technology to reduce energy use on its trains.

•For those interested in how APTA calculated the 4,800 pounds of greenhouse gases that motorists can save by switching to transit, here’s the explanation from a 2007 report commissioned by APTA:

2. How much additional CO2 savings are possible if incremental public transportation passenger ridership is increased? Answer: A solo commuter switching his or her commute to existing public transportation in a single day can reduce their CO2 emissions by 20 pounds or more than 4,800 pounds in a year.

An average private vehicle emission rate is about 1.0 pound of CO2 per mile. An automobile driven by a single person 20 miles round trip to work will emit 20 pounds of CO2. Thus, the savings by using existing service would be about 20.0 pounds of CO2 per daily trip. As passenger loads increase on public transportation, there may be only a slight increase in CO2, much less than driving to work in single occupancy vehicles (SOV).

Over the course of a year, an individual could potentially reduce their CO2 emissions by more than 4,800 pounds (assuming 240 days of transit travel per year). This represents slightly more than two metric tonnes of CO2 or about ten percent of a two-car family household’s carbon footprint of 22 metric tonnes per year.

In contrast, if one were to weatherize their home and adjust their thermostat the carbon savings would be approximately 2,800 pounds of CO2. Other comparisons include replacing five incandescent bulbs to lower wattage compact fluorescent lamps (445 pounds of CO2 per year), or replacing an older refrigerator freezer (335 pounds of CO2 per year.

•Here’s a new video about Metro’s sustainability initiatives:

•Quotes from officials:

“Earth Day serves as an opportunity for Angelenos to focus on steps we can take to live more sustainability, particularly as we face this historic drought,” Metro Board Chair and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti. “I’m proud that Metro is doing its part by reducing its water consumption by 4.3 million gallons a year and encouraging Angelenos to take public transportation with today’s demonstration, reminding us that each one of us plays a key role in preserving our city’s health and longevity.”

“In addition to the largest all clean-burning natural gas fleet in North America – 97 percent cleaner than the diesel buses they replaced – Metro has added all-electric, zero-emission 40-foot buses that will reduce carbon monoxide, greenhouse gases as well as operating costs,” said Supervisor and Metro Board Member Michael D. Antonovich, who is also on the board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD).

“Metro’s ongoing investments in cleantech ensure we’re prepared for the future as our system continues to expand,” said Metro Interim Deputy CEO Stephanie Wiggins. “To serve such a vast area as L.A. County takes a great amount of resources, but we recognize our responsibility to conserve energy, reduce waste and make transportation more sustainable.”