Every time you choose to ride Valley Metro you are making a choice to improve the environment. Valley Metro is bringing benefits to communities by staying committed to all three pillars of sustainability: environmental, social and economic. Some social and economic benefits include the creation of 35,000 jobs while providing the public with 64 million rides in fiscal year 2019 alone. Public transportation diverted an estimated 248 million pounds of greenhouse gases in 2019.
Valley Metro’s vehicles are green by design. Light rail trains are powered by electricity and are insulated to reduce cooling loss. Their body paint and window tint are solar reflective. All our new extensions (Central Mesa, Gilbert Road, and Northwest Phase I) have stations equipped with LED lighting. Your Valley Metro buses are also equipped with cost-saving LED lights. According to the US Department of Energy, LEDs last longer, are more durable and provide better quality lighting.
When it comes to Valley Metro’s bus fleet, 73 percent use either compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquified natural gas (LNG) as alternative fuels. CNG and LNG are among the cleanest burning fossil fuels and produce far fewer harmful emissions and hydrocarbons than gasoline. Other buses use a hybrid diesel-electric engine, which combines an internal combustion engine with an electrical motor aimed at producing fewer emissions while saving energy. When it comes to removing particles from the air, diesel buses are equipped with special traps that collect soot while reducing pollution.
Valley Metro’s facilities are green by design. The Operations and Maintenance Center is powered by solar energy. In fact, I recognized Valley Metro’s commitment to sustainability on my first day of employment, when I noticed the light rail yard filled with solar panels. We are also expanding solar to our Mesa Bus Operations and Maintenance facility by constructing a solar shade structure for our buses. The solar canopy will be operational by June 2020 and will generate up to 80 percent of energy for the facility.
Recycling is another way Valley Metro helps the environment. Sixty percent of water usage is saved by using a reclamation process for washing vehicles, while oil, tires, antifreeze, batteries, oil filters, light bulbs, and e-waste all get recycled. Valley Metro is piloting recycling at our light rail stations, and you can find our first light rail recycling bins at the Gilbert Road Station. The Valley Metro maintenance facilities have an impressive diversion rate of 47 percent, which is 11 percent above the City of Phoenix average. If you ride an Express bus, your seat may be made from recycled bottle caps and plastics.
Valley Metro’s environmental efforts are getting noticed. The organization was awarded a silver level status in the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Sustainability Commitment. APTA awards members who not only commit to more sustainable operations, but who demonstrate the advancement of short and long-term sustainability goals. Valley Metro is one of eleven transit agencies in the United States to have this recognition level. Valley Metro also received a Phoenix Green Business Leader certification for our sustainable business practices.
Another way that Valley Metro is reducing greenhouse gases and saving costs is by promoting the ride-matching site, ShareTheRide.com. It helps commuters find alternative methods of transportation including carpool, vanpools, bus, light rail, or walking options. Participants are awarded for their attempts by earning points, entering contests, and winning prizes. Valley Metro will continue to incorporate environmentally sustainable practices in its operations. To stay up to date on our progress, please visit valleymetro.org/sustainability.
Go to valleymetro.org to find out how you can play a part by helping the environment through alternative transportation. Sharing the ride just once a week can make a difference if we all participate.