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Happy Earth Day!

April 22, 2022

Of all the things we do to combat climate change - choosing public transportation over single-occupancy vehicles is one of the most effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Earth Day 2022 Theme is Invest In Our Planet.

Public Transportation is a national priority that should be specifically targeted by climate change and energy legislation.

According to U.S. Census data, 46% of American households do not have access to any public transportation. Public transportation must expand geographically to capture shifts in population, both within regions and across the country. Funding is also needed to support public transportation systems that are struggling to maintain the quality of assets and consequently the quality and reliability of service. Systems must be adequately funded to allow people who are choosing public transportation - to stay on public transportation.

SEPTA helped spur our region’s growth over the past decade and we are ready to help create a more resilient, prosperous, and equitable region as we build back from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Investing in transit is an investment in our region and the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: an investment to connect our residents to opportunities, keep goods moving, create well-paying jobs, and enable inclusive growth. It is an investment to sustain our environment and secure our health.

As a cornerstone of Southeastern Pennsylvania’s regional sustainability, SEPTA connects people to opportunity while minimizing carbon emissions, reducing traffic, and supporting healthy communities. Emphasizing sustainability, equity, and accessibility is a key element of the SEPTA Forward Strategic Plan.

SEPTA cannot achieve this plan’s goals on our own.

There are not enough funds for SEPTA to deliver strategic projects that would allow the region to thrive. Locally, Southeastern Pennsylvania has limited authority to generate its own revenue to invest in its own transportation system, because most local funding sources require statewide enabling legislation. 

We are collaborating with our partners– both public and private–to ensure that they receive the necessary funding and resources to maximize the benefits for our entire region. We will work closely with these partners to prioritize funding options that allow for long-term investments in vehicle procurements. With sustainable funding, we can invest in our vehicles and ensure the SEPTA system is accessible for all.

What is SEPTA doing? 

• Generating over 25,000 MWh of clean, renewable electricity at the Elk Hill solar farm in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, representing 7% of SEPTA’s total electricity demand. Elk Hill’s solar capacity is scheduled to double in May 2022.

• Bringing a third solar rooftop installation online at Fern Rock Shop in north Philadelphia. Together, Fern Rock, Berridge, and Callowhill facilities’ solar projects have generated over 4,400 MWh of renewable power, avoiding almost 1,500 tons of CO2e emissions.

• Completing Phase 1 of a Zero-Emission Bus (ZEB) Master Plan, evaluating the feasibility replacing diesel hybrid buses with battery-electric buses (BEBs). Phase 2, evaluating fuel cell electric buses, is currently underway. We're planning for a full transition to zero-emission buses (ZEBs) by the year 2040. A combination of federal, state, and local funding will be needed to achieve this. Check out our zero-emission bus playbook for more information on this forward-looking strategy to benefit the communities of the Southeastern Pennsylvania region.

• Implementing an enterprise-wide sustainability data management system, EMSYS, to facilitate tracking and analysis of SEPTA’s electricity, natural gas, vehicle fuel, water, waste, and recycling data.

• Significantly reducing energy use at SEPTA’s 1234 Market Street Headquarters from a whole building energy efficiency retrofit.

• Maintaining certification of two maintenance facilities under the rigorous and globally recognized ISO 14001 standard for environmental management.

What Will You Do?  

Hint: Even if you ride the bus, train, or trolley just one time this week - you can help lower the world's greenhouse gas emissions - which not only slows climate change - it also improves air quality.