The Best of BUSRide Green Awards

Environmental regard and sensitivity has become increasingly important to public and private bus transportation over the last decade.  Long-term sustainability is the byword for new products and services in play that conserve resources and ensure a cleaner, healthier environment.

The green shift within the industry is seen in the development of hybrid powered vehicles and lowered emissions, and the growing popularity of alternative fuels, as well as keener attention to idling coaches.

The incorporation of EPA compliant engines, particulate filters (DPF), Ultra Low Sulfur Fuel and urea have dramatically changed all previous conceptions of diesel propulsion.

Green-minded operations are demonstrating best practices that instill environmental stewardship through the company, such as a shortened work week, recycling and careful monitoring of utilities and power systems, and using eco-sensitive products.

In an era of skyrocketing fuel prices and growing congestion on city streets, the public is gaining a greater appreciation for the solutions buses and motorcoaches provide as the benefit to the environment continues to manifest.

Environmental policies and green improvements to facilities, products and services are integral to today’s marketing message.  The campaigns not only promote the business, they serve to remind the traveling public that coaches are clearly the standard-bearers.
The Best of BUSRide recognizes these companies and industry partners that are leading the charge for clean, green conservation as a standard method of operation.

With the future of the planet in mind, highly awarded Bauer’s Intelligent Transportation, San Francisco, CA, first introduced its green transportation strategies in 1999 and presently covers 97 percent of its highway miles using alternative fuels such as compressed natural gas, bio-diesel and propane.  Bauer’s touts one of the largest private eco-friendly fleets in the industry, which meets the most stringent air quality standards developed by the California Air Resources Board that come into effect in 2013.

The company’s Corporate Green Initiative drives the SaveIT Foundation, which founder and President Gary Bauer established in 2007 to build a local green-minded broad-based private-public partnership in support of the enhancement city parks and playgrounds in his community.

Bauer’s works with the San Francisco Business Council on Climate Change, an organization of green-minded businesses San Francisco that come together to solve local and regional eco-issues.

In an effort to underscore its commitment to the community and the environment, part of the proceeds from the Bauer’s eco-transportation service has been set aside to fund environmentally-focused initiatives through the SaveIT Foundation, including the identification of local parks and playgrounds that need to be refurbished and working with other local green-minded corporations to accomplish this goal.

Bauer’s Intelligent Transportation launched its proprietary Solar Hybrid Bus Powering System to assist transportation companies across the U.S. to comply with anti-idling laws. The Solar Bus integrates four thin-film solar panels to draw energy from the sun to charge an on-board battery bank for powering the air-conditioning and wireless connectivity equipment. The technology can save on annual fuel costs and reduce up to 345,000 grams of NOx per bus per year with normal service.

First Transit, which operates fixed-route Valley Metro services in Phoenix, AZ, was recently awarded the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) – 14000 certification for their environmental management processes.
The ISO 14000 is a standard for environmental management systems that is applicable to all businesses. The program is intended to reduce the environmental footprint of a business and decrease the pollution and waste a business produces. The Phoenix operation is currently the only First Transit location to receive this certification.

First Transit, Inc., part of FirstGroup America, is a provider of passenger transportation contract and management services in the United States. With decades of experience, First Transit provides operation, management and consulting for 235 locations in 41 states and Puerto Rico for transit authorities, state departments of transportation, federal agencies, municipal organizations and private companies.

First Transit’s team worked diligently to think of ways to be more environmentally friendly and enhance current processes to meet the organization’s qualifications. Representatives of First Transit say that they’re proud of the achievement because it indicates greater efficiency, improved controls and reduced liability.

To successfully gain certification, the First Transit team had to learn how to better track all of its waste, reshape its waste management processes, establish benchmarks and set goals to improve.  The team worked for more than 15 months to reduce its environmental footprint to receive this recognition.

Go Riteway Transportation Group, Richfield WI, GO, which began with the Bast family and Riteway Bus Service over 55 years and three generations ago, currently employs 900 people at 13 locations throughout Wisconsin. Its fleet of motorcoaches, shuttle buses and vans, limo coaches, limousines, executive sedans and school buses ranks among the greenest coach operations in North America, repeatedly recognized for its environmentally sensitivity and best practices to reduce emissions and fuel consumption.

The company has been working diligently since 2008 to green the fleet and operations, implementing practices and procedures that ranged from idling reduction policies to retrofitting and acquiring new equipment, as well as honing all operations to fit with green policies. According to GO Riteway President Ron Bast, one of the most recent steps in the sustainability effort has been to convert its airport shuttle fleet to propane autogas. By 2013, GO Riteway expects to put 30 vehicles into service that feature either propane autogas or hybrid technology.

The Fuel Conservation Program charges each terminal manager to reduce fuel consumption, decrease wasted expenditures in fuel and maintenance and improve efficiency, incorporating electronic onboard recorders and on-road observations.

The American Bus Association (ABA) bestowed its inaugural 2012 Green Operator Award to Riteway, which also earned the United Motorcoach Association (UMA) Green Highway Award.

The company earned two certificates from the University of Vermont Green Coach Certification program.

BUSRide honored Riteway with its Industry Achievement Award as a motorcoach owner-operator that continually demonstrates excellence and innovation.

GreenRoad™, Redwood City, CA with offices throughout the U.S., the U.K., and Israel, is a company specializing in driver performance and safety management, helping operators who embrace sustainability save fuel and reduce carbon emissions mile-by-mile and day-by-day.

GreenRoad programs work to improves driver performance to makes eco-driving a reality for bus, coach and transit fleets.
The proprietary GreenRoad Driver Improvement Loop incorporates advanced in-vehicle mobile technology and change management best practices.  A multi-winner of the prestigious Global Cleantech 100, a list produced by the Cleantech Group of the top private companies in clean technology. This list highlights the promise of private clean technology companies from all around the world, focusing on those companies which are most likely to make the most significant market impact over the next five to 10 years. GreenRoad is one of eight businesses recognized in the transportation section of this authoritative guide, selected for its use of technology to improve the sustainability of fleets and reduce vehicle emissions.

GreenRoad has earned further recognition as a recipient in the GreenFleet Awards. Its UK customer, Iron Mountain is also a previous GreenFleet winner, named as Private Sector Fleet of the Year. Another UK customer, FirstGroup, was a finalist for the Private Sector Fleet of the Year, while GreenRoad itself earned commendation in the IT Innovation category. GreenFleet awards on three key criteria: innovation, market size and growth and the candidate’s ability and resources to execute its technology.

Atlantic Express Transportation Corp., one of the largest school bus and student transport companies in North America, uses GreenRoad in more than 2,300 buses serving the greater New York City metro area to manage efficiency, reduce emissions, create better driver awareness and improve safety skills.

Mansfield, Gainesville, GA, is a comprehensive fuel distribution network operating throughout the United States and enjoys proprietary supply relationships with all major and independent refiners and a majority of the nation’s petroleum transportation companies. The company says it is an integral part of the nation’s fuel supply chain and can deliver just about anywhere through an integrated network of refiners, terminals, carriers, and retailers.

The eco-minded company provides the expertise and systems required to develop an environmental compliance management program for a transportation company. Its engineers are available to assist with its implementation and ongoing management.

Mansfield helps with environmental compliance through compilation and management of automated tank gauge (ATG) data that includes fuel tank inventory, leak detection, and system operating conditions to meet environmental regulations.

A staff environmental director manages all compliance-related issues, providing monthly inventory data. Compliance status for each site is monitored and captured in the proprietary FuelNet system for viewing online anytime for reporting and compliance management purposes.

In conjunction with its manufacturing partner Yara, the largest DEF producer in the world and its distributors, the DeliveryONE Network distributes Air1 diesel engine fluid (DEF), serving Mansfield DEF customers in 50 states from over 900 supply points. Air1meets ISO 22241 and API standards and carries API certification. The company says its entire DEF solution goes beyond product with the backing of a national supply with local service. DeliveryONE specialists receive rigorous training in how to store, handle, transport and administer DEF to the fleet in any weather condition.

Motor Coach Industries (MCI), Schaumburg, IL, has made “Going Green” a dynamic part of its message and day-to-day policies. From shifts in employee behavior to increased eco-friendly technology, the company has bought in to the green mentality.

The newest MCI coaches are equipped with engines featuring a diesel particulate filter and Ultra Low Sulfur Fuel. MCI says the engines will emit less black smoke than their predecessors and will eventually reduce carbon emissions by 90-percent. The company introduced the SmarTire pressure monitoring system with fuel conservation in mind.

MCI’s service centers have a contract with Safety-Kleen to recycle the oil and metal from oil filters. The centers recycle all antifreeze and are currently switching from solvent-based cleaners to aqueous ones. This means less release of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) into the air.

Service centers have installed triple-traps to help ensure that oils do not enter sewers, groundwater or land. Service center paint booths have incorporated a DuPont paint system built to prevent the release of paint emissions into the air.

MCI’s Winnipeg plant runs largely on hydro-electric power, and the company says it’s been working with utility providers to cut peak and overall usage. Management has introduced recycling and waste reduction programs at all plants, service centers, parts distribution facilities and corporate offices. All locations offer a paper recycling plan.

In the public eye, MCI has ramped up the media and awareness campaign. They participated in the Udall Legacy Tour and a fall EPA promotion to remind people that motor coaches reduce congestion and offer the most efficient means of transportation on the road. MCI prints company literature on recycled paper.

“Go Green, Go Coach, Go MCI” is the company’s conservation slogan, and they’ve done all in their power to embrace it fully.

NuTech National Solar, Maitland, FL, earns recognition for its corporate vision that successfully melds safety with environmental stewardship. The company specializes in the development and manufacture of solar street and bus stop lighting for public transit systems and school bus transportation, as well as college campuses and large corporations. Solar panels atop lights at bus stops illuminate large areas with high intensity light and extend the margin of safety at less cost.

The company says its proprietary Lightstop LED solar power lighting combined with wireless audio and video security components ensures the safety of passengers waiting for their bus. With the push of a button, the waiting customer can alert the driver to stop. The light turns on and stays on for 15-, 30- or 45-minute intervals, which This feature conserves drive time and energy when no one is waiting on the route and the driver does not have to stop.

To ensure extra security precautions, NuTech can equip the bus stop shelter with video from a complete pan-tilt zoom camera and audio which the agency can monitor, permitting direct communication with the person and summon for help if necessary and send alerts by Alerts sent by email or messaging. The wireless video operates on existing power from lighting or solar.

The system features a high tech-high ampage sealed, spill-proof battery with a fused harness that promises as much as 50,000 hours maintenance free LED lighting — as much as 14 years of trouble free lighting from the sun. The battery fits into a weatherproof recycled PVC housing, which mounts easily with custom bracket kits for most style shelters.

The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC), Las Vegas, NV, recently completed construction on the Bonneville Transit Center in downtown Las Vegas, which the U.S. Green Building Council awarded in August with an official Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification.

Platinum certification is the highest distinction awarded by LEED, and the Bonneville Transit Center is just the third building in Southern Nevada to achieve that status. LEED represents the leading third-party verification tool for green building practices.

Businesses and homeowners in 135 countries can volunteer for LEED certification, where buildings are rated for sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. Commercial buildings and neighborhoods must satisfy earn a minimum 40 points on a 110-point LEED rating system scale.

RTC says the Bonneville Transit Center was certified Platinum for multiple reasons including onsite renewable energy generation using solar panels to offset peak electricity costs. Additionally, nearly 80 percent of the building use natural day lighting. Overall, the transit center’s energy efficient design features are estimated to reduce energy consumption by 58 percent.

In addition to energy efficiency, RTC says the building has many water efficient features including landscaping that utilizes desert plants and drip irrigation, as well as low-flow plumbing fixtures that use 50 percent less water than traditional fixtures.

Officials from RTC, the City of Las Vegas and the U.S. Green Building Council have all offered praise of the building’s energy-efficient design and highlighted the project’s benefits to the local community.

RTC has made previous efforts for sustainability by promising to install 150 bus shelters with solar-powered LED lighting by the end of 2012.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), Philadelphia, PA is recognized for outstanding efforts in sustainability and ecological conservation.

Since implementing their Program Plan last year, SEPTA has realized significant environmental gains and cost savings. Five discretionary grants totaling $22.7 million were awarded to SEPTA for hybrid buses, wayside energy storage, climate adaptation and emissions reductions. After switching its headquarters to daytime cleaning, SEPTA estimates that about $104,000 is saved annually. SEPTA received 100 new hybrid-electric buses last year, bringing their total hybrid-electric bus fleet to 472 of 1,400 buses.

In August, SEPTA hosted the 2012 American Public Transportation Association (APTA) “Sustainability and Public Transportation Workshop.” The four-day conference brought hundreds of the industry’s sustainability and environmental policy professionals to the Philadelphia region, where they sampled SEPTA’s progress towards a comprehensive environmental, social, and economic sustainability agenda.

SEPTA also recognizes that bicycle use is a key factor in reducing carbon emissions. To that end, it teamed with the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, NJ Transit, and PATCO. The agency’s now collecting information on how transit stations can better accommodate bicyclists. The data will come through a crowdsourcing map that will allow users to click on a specific stop or station and input information about its bike-related characteristics.

The agency takes a “triple-bottom-line” approach to sustainability – accounting for social, environmental and economic organizational needs and regional opportunities. It’s handily labeled this the “people-planet-prosperity” approach, so as to cover all the bases when it comes to eco-friendly travel.

The University of Vermont Green Certification for Sustainable Transportation (CST) focuses on the environmental concerns among motorcoach operators and charter tour operators. The Certification for Sustainable Transportation’s (CST) eRating vehicle certification and driver training programs can help manufacturers promote their most fuel efficient, lowest emission vehicles and enhance customer relations through a demonstrated commitment to sustainability.

Founded in 2012 as the direct outgrowth a pilot program begun in 2005 in collaboration with the American Bus Association (ABA) and the United Motorcoach Association (UMA), CST is an independent, third party eRating program. The e in eRating speaks to the environmentally friendly, energy efficient, economic and educational aspects of this transportation program.

Currently in a soft launch mode, this University of Vermont Extension is already working with motorcoach operators that represent approximately around 20 percent of the motorcoaches in the country.

The criteria for four levels of certification focuses on EPA emissions compliant engines; meeting or exceeding industry miles per gallon fuel averages; an endorsed carbon-trading program to offset carbon emissions; use of alternative fuels; a strict, documented and verifiable energy conservation and recycling program; and emerging environmental technologies.

The eRatings and driver training programs help individuals and companies reduce fuel and operating costs, promote green transportation and demonstrate a commitment to sustainability as roughly 29 percent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the United States are attributed to transportation activities.

Addressing motorcoach OEMs, CST eRating program uses a comprehensive set of criteria to award certification to an entire product line before the vehicles leave the factory.

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), San Jose, CA, made great strides in energy efficiency this year with the installation of solar-powered canopies at its three maintenance facilities.

The systems, totaling 2.1 megawatts, were installed in partnership with Wells Fargo, SunPower Corp. and Joint Venture Silicon Valley. They were financed through a Power Purchase Agreement, where Wells Fargo owns the systems that SunPower designed, built and maintains. VTA is paying for the electricity and owns the renewable energy credits that the system will reap. Officials at VTA say that the agency will buy electricity at prices that are competitive retail rates.

SunPower built the canopies using 5,070 SunPower E19/425 high-efficiency solar panels. The Chaboya Division and the Cerone Division, both located in San Jose, boast a 548-kilowatt system and a 969-kilowatt system respectively. SunPower installed a 637-kilowatt system at the North Division facility, located in Mountain View.

Officials estimate that VTA will save $2.7 million in electricity costs over the next 20 years, offsetting more than 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year. They say this is equivalent to removing 9,000 cars from California’s roads or planting 10,000 acres of trees over two decades.

In addition to the solar panel installations, VTA deployed 90 new hybrid buses into its fleet. That move alone reduced the agency’s carbon dioxide emissions by 15 percent. Twenty of the buses have been added to the city’s express routes, featuring free Wi-Fi service, reclining high-back seats, reading lights, overheard storage racks and other rider amenities.

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