Authority Awarded APTA Gold Status for Meeting or Exceeding Sustainability Goals in Four Key Areas
MARTA has been awarded the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Gold Level for its Sustainability Commitment Program, recognizing MARTA’s ongoing commitment to sustainability initiatives that have a positive impact on the environment and the communities it serves. The Authority’s sustainability efforts are categorized into four areas: buildings, environment, community, and climate, and are measured annually through vehicle revenue miles (VRM), to account for increasing service areas through expansion and to make our values more easily comparable to other transit agencies.
“MARTA remains committed to continually enhancing our assets and operations to reduce costs, positively impact the environment, and improve the communities in which we operate, work, and live,” said MARTA General Manger and CEO Jeffrey Parker. “It is an honor to receive this important industry distinction and I’m proud of the hard work being done in all of our departments to achieve and exceed our sustainability goals.”
Through the incorporation of sustainability efforts in the following categories, MARTA reduced water use by 40 percent, greenhouse gas emissions by 27 percent, energy use by 14 percent, and waste by 13 percent, over a seven-year period.
MARTA has completed the installation of energy-efficient lighting at all rail stations, maintenance facilities, and office buildings. Additional energy-efficient mechanical upgrades are ongoing and scheduled to be completed this year. MARTA’s $300 million multi-year Station Rehabilitation Project addresses issues such as mold growth or freeze/thaw cycles, that over time can cause larger, more expensive structural problems. Continually addressing these items leads to healthier stations for customers and alleviates significant day-to-day maintenance issues and costs.
MARTA’s Environmental Management System (EMS) encompasses eight facilities including rail yards, bus maintenance facilities, and MARTA’s operations hub, and expansion to the two remaining facilities is currently underway. As part of EMS, MARTA installed electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at six rail stations for a total of 60 ports. As of last October, the use of these ports was the equivalent of 5.9 metric tons of avoided greenhouse gas emissions, or the same benefit as planting 151 trees and letting them grow for ten years. MARTA has seen an increase in its recycling tonnage, largely due to various projects across the system, and a planned expansion of rail station recycling bins for customers will further contribute to the Authority’s overall recycling goals. Conversely, water usage at MARTA is decreasing and recently reached the lowest annual usage recorded since this type of data recording began almost ten years ago. MARTA’s bus wash water reuse systems save an estimated 3.5 million gallons of water each year that would otherwise be drawn from the region’s potable water system.
MARTA strives to be a strong community partner, implementing programs that encourage healthy habits such as Fresh MARTA Markets that bring fresh produce to rail stations in food “deserts” and building soccer pitches at rail stations for a citywide youth soccer league. MARTA works to address social justice issues with its MARTA Hope Initiative, providing support and services to unsheltered individuals on the system, and ongoing efforts to fight systemic racism within its own walls and in the communities it serves. MARTA’s transit-oriented development (TOD) program supports local development and greater economic health in the region and has an affordable housing component to ensure senior and low-income residents have convenient access to transit.
MARTA continues to shrink its carbon footprint, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by almost 27 percent in ten years. MARTA’s fleet is almost three-fourths Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses and six older diesel buses will soon be replaced with new battery-electric models. The electric buses are designed for heavy-duty transit service and will be supported by plug-in depot chargers and on-route fast-conductive charging stations. Additionally, MARTA is undergoing a major bus maintenance overhaul, that similar to the station rehab program, will address smaller wear-and-tear issues more frequently, before they lead to service problems. MARTA plays a significant role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by providing transportation options that help decrease the number of cars on the road. In 2019, MARTA reduced emissions the equivalent of keeping over 370,000 cars off the road or powering almost 300,000 homes for one year.
MARTA is exploring the feasibility of future sustainability initiatives including reduced idling for revenue and non-revenue vehicles, implementing additional water efficiencies into landscaping, and developing a broader Climate Action Plan to ensure the Authority remains a good steward of the environment for decades to come.