Intercity Transit has a long history of practicing earth-friendly initiatives that protect the planet’s natural resources, support innovation, and enhance the agency’s mission. That mission is to provide and promote transportation choices that support an accessible, sustainable, livable, healthy, and prosperous community.
Intercity Transit’s Sustainability Statement
Public transportation is a cornerstone of community vitality, sustainability, and environmental stewardship. Intercity Transit upholds these qualities through its commitment to sustainable practices, leadership principles, and accessibility.
Sustainability is integral in Intercity Transit’s daily practices and long-term objectives to meet the transportation needs of the community it serves.
Sustainability is the ability to adapt, grow, and thrive from generation to generation. It is an ongoing effort toward improvement.
Sustainable practices must preserve and restore environmental systems as well as promote initiatives that support robust economies and vibrant communities. Sustainable practices must make good business, public, and environmental sense by balancing the community’s economic, social, and environmental needs.
Sustainability must consider people, planet, and prosperity.
Intercity Transit is a founding signatory to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Sustainability Commitment. As a signatory to the APTA Commitment, Intercity Transit commits to putting core processes in place that set the basis for environmental, social, and economic sustainability practices. These practices are administered on an ongoing basis and continually improved upon over time.
In 2012, APTA awarded Intercity Transit and Sound Transit the nation’s first “Gold” signatory status level for their individual agency commitments to sustainability.
Intercity Transit received the gold award for accomplishments in multiple areas. Between 2006 and 2010, the agency has:
- Reduced total agency waste output by 4.8 percent;
- Reduced total agency water use by 5.5 percent;
- Reduced energy use per transit trip by 8 percent;
- Increased transit ridership by 31.9 percent;
- Increased displaced emissions by 35 percent by replacing older emissions technology with new, cleaner technology; and
- Increased greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide) savings 23.6 percent.
Watch our video for an inside look at what we do for sustainability!
Environment and Sustainability Management System
In May 2011, the Intercity Transit Authority – the agency’s governing board - approved its Environmental & Sustainability Policy (E&S Policy). The E&S Policy upholds Intercity Transit’s ongoing commitment to be a leading public steward in environmental and sustainability practices. The E&S Policy states that Intercity Transit will implement a formal Environmental and Sustainability Management System (ESMS) consistent with ISO 14001-2004 standards.
Intercity Transit began work to develop an ESMS program following the U.S. Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) selection of Intercity Transit for its national ESMS training program in December 2010. The FTA-sponsored program is coordinated by Virginia Tech’s ESMS Institute, which provided in-depth training to five Intercity Transit managers over the past year (2011). This ESMS Core Team now works with all Intercity Transit resources to implement, evaluate, and continually improve our Environmental and Sustainability Management System as part of the agency’s overall sustainability commitment.
The ESMS program strengthens Intercity Transit’s ability to:
- Analyze its efforts to minimize negative environmental impacts and encourage sustainable practices;
- Create environmental objectives, targets, and programs that prevent or reduce negative environmental impacts and maintain legal and regulatory compliance; and
- Measure, monitor, document, and evaluate programs and activities as part of continual improvement of environmental and sustainability practices over time.
Intercity Transit expects the benefits of its ESMS program to include:
- Continual improvement of operational efficiency and effectiveness;
- Reduction or avoidance of certain operational and maintenance costs;
- Reduction of the agency’s risk of negative environmental impacts; and
- Identification of opportunities for implementing significant environmental and/or sustainability initiatives and practices.
Intercity Transit began developing an ESMS program after the U.S. Federal Transit Adminstration (FTA) selected the agency for Round 3 of its national ESMS training program in December 2010. Intercity Transit participated in the 2011 FTA Institute conducted by Virginia Tech, which provided in-depth training to five Intercity Transit managers in 2011 and 2012. This ESMS Core Team now works with all Intercity Transit resources to implement, evaluate, and continually improve the agency's Environmental and Sustainability Management System as part of the its overall sustainability commitment.
The initial key aspects of Intercity Transit's ESMS program focus on fluids management, fuel use, and stormwater management. Intercity Transit is committed to continuous review of all aspects of its operations and projects that have the potential for impacting the environment or our sustainability efforts.
In 2010, Intercity Transit began operating six hybrid biodiesel-electric buses, the first in the South Puget Sound area. An additional seven hybrid buses went into service in August 2012, increasing the total to 13 – one-quarter of Intercity Transit’s coach fleet. The agency plans to purchase more hybrid coaches in the future as it replaces equipment.
The benefits of operating hybrid buses include:
- Less diesel used--33 percent less than regular, clean-diesel-fueled buses.
- Fewer harmful emissions;
- Less maintenance;
- Less diesel exhaust odor, vehicle noise; and
- The same operating reliability as traditional propulsion engine buses.
Intercity Transit was among the first transit systems in the nation to fuel its entire bus fleet with cleaner-burning biodiesel. Since 2002, the agency has consistently used biodiesel - mostly a blend of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent ultra-low sulfur diesel in all its buses and vans. This fuel blend reduces harmful particulates by 20 percent, carbon monoxide emissions by 13 percent, and total hydrocarbon emissions by more than 10 percent.
Intercity Transit's biodiesel is vegetable-oil based, renewably resourced, less polluting, and biodegradable.
Other Earth-Friendly Practices
For many years, Intercity Transit has recycled paper, cardboard, plastic, aluminum cans, batteries, tires, fluorescent lamps, and more. The agency also recycles vehicle byproducts including antifreeze, oil filters, metals, recaps tires, and reuses motor oil (re-refined off site), and bus wash water, and composts yard, plant, and food waste.
In addition, Intercity Transit partners with community volunteers on an innovative bicycle recycling program that refurbishes bicycles abandoned at transit facilities and donates them to youth through the agency’s Bike PARTners program.
Intercity Transit continues its commitment to reducing emissions and encouraging alternatives to driving alone.
About 20 percent of Intercity Transit employees use commute alternatives for travel to and from work, and the agency encourages employees to bus, carpool, walk, or bicycle to work-related meetings. The agency's fleet of six bicycles is available for staff to use for business and personal travel during the work day. Agency employees also use hybrid and electric vehicles for staff travel.
In 2013, the League of American Bicyclists recognized Intercity Transit as one of the first transit systems in the U.S. designated a Bicycle Friendly Business. Intercity Transit supports bicycling as an earth friendly and appealing commute option, and administers community bicycle encouragement programs, the Bicycle Commuter Contest, and Bike PARTners.
Intercity Transit recognizes that personal choices make a difference, and has done a lot to ensure their programs affect the environment as little as possible. In addition to the above programs, Intercity Transit has taken action in the areas of land use and water and energy conservation as outlined below.
Intercity Transit plays an active role in the community to address issues that affect land use including:
- Embarking on an innovative project to build a park-and-ride lot atop a former landfill in Thurston County;
- Working with area jurisdictions to develop communities that support and encourage transit use;
- Incorporating "green" building practices into capital projects when building new or renovating existing facilities;
- Meeting LEED standards for Silver or higher in all future building.
- Administering an extensive recycling and reuse program that includes: composting yard, plant, and food waste; recycling motor oil and tires; and using environmentally friendly chemicals and materials; and
- Installing water bottle filling stations to minimize plastic bottle waste.
To conserve water, Intercity Transit:
- Installed high-efficiency toilets in agency facilities;
- Installed low-flow aerators in faucets throughout the agency;
- Planted native, drought-tolerant plants in landscaped areas; and
- Recycles water used to wash the vehicle exteriors.
To conserve energy, Intercity Transit:
- Installed solar-powered lights in low-lit sheltered bus stops;
- Participates as a 100 percent partner in Puget Sound Energy’s Green Power Program; and
- Installed motion sensor lights in several areas of its facilities.