SEP-TAINABLE: Year In Review

February 3, 2012

Annual Report Chronicles Progress


  • $22,787,000: Value of five discretionary grants received for environmental initiatives (hybrid buses-2; wayside energy storage; climate adaptation; emissions reductions)
  • $500,000: Estimated annual value of two innovative wayside storage devices calibrated to sell electricity back to the grid
  • $104,143: Annual savings from switching headquarters to daytime cleaning
  • $22,492: PECO rebates for energy efficiency projects
  • 16,666: "Seniors Ride Free" passes issued
  • 1000: Gallon capacity of the cistern at 46th Street Station used to capture stormwater and irrigate the next-door Walnut Hill Community Farm
  • 600: Family and friends participating in "Philly Spring Clean-Up" Day
  • 243: Number of trees planted across 12 capital projects
  • 100: Number of new hybrid-electric buses received (total fleet: 472 of 1400 buses)
  • 90th: Headquarters percentile among commercial office buildings under national ENERGYSTAR program
  • 44: Participants in SEPTA's inaugural Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program
  • $41.33: Price per ton SEPTA will be paid for recyclable materials
  • 18: Tons of food collected from passengers and employees during annual food drive
  • 7.9: Customer satisfaction rating (Up 10%)
  • 4%: Ridership growth
  • 4: Farmers markets on SEPTA property
  • 2.95: Greenhouse gas emissions SEPTA displaced for every unit it produced
  • 1: Number of railroad stations designed "LEED Silver" by the U.S. Green Building Council (SEPTA's Fox Chase Station)

This week, SEPTA released its first Sustainability Program Annual Report. The report, entitled "SEP-TAINABLE: Going Beyond Green," chronicles a year of progress towards SEPTA's goal to become an industry leader and regional partner in pursuing a comprehensive environmental, social, and economic sustainability agenda in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Notable progress was demonstrated across all three pillars (environmental-social-economic):


SEPTA's environmental initiatives were selected for funding under five grant programs in 2011. Funding totaled $22.8 million: a total of $20 million for hybrid buses from two separate Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Clean Fuels and State of Good Repair Programs; $1.44 million for wayside energy storage from the FTA Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas & Energy Reduction (TIGGER) program; $147,000 for a vulnerability and risk assessment from the FTA Climate Adaptation Pilot Program; and $1.2 million for an ultra-low emitting "Gen Set" locomotive engine from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

National recognition was received for two specific initiatives: A "LEED Silver" designation from the U.S. Green Building Council for its Fox Chase Station reconstruction, the first such designation for a railroad station in the United States; and an ENERGYSTAR award from the EPA for its headquarters building. SEPTA is also pursuing a prestigious ISO certification from the International Organization for Standardization for its Environmental & Sustainability Management System.

SEPTA also recently implemented a comprehensive recycling program at all stations on the Market-Frankford, Broad Street, and Trolley Lines, and the majority of its back-shop locations. SEPTA will be paid $41.33 per ton for its recyclable materials under a contract with its new waste hauler.

Repower Project Advances Thanks to $1.2 Million from EPA for Ultra-Low Emissions Technology


SEPTA partnered with city and regional organizations to advance the health and vitality of the region's communities. Of note is a partnership with the City of Philadelphia, Lower Merion Township, and Manayunk Development Corporation to advance the redevelopment of SEPTA's iconic Manayunk Bridge as a multi-use trail. SEPTA has also partnered with local community organizations to improve access to transit services, such as the Business Association of West Parkside, which participated in the decision to relocate the Parkside Bus Loop to better accommodate neighborhood needs.

The National Resources Defense Council recognized SEPTA for its innovative partnership with The Food Trust to improve local access to fresh food. The collaboration produced farmers markets at prevalent transit hubs across SEPTA's system to reduce food deserts and address Philadelphia's obesity epidemic. Pilot farmers markets at the Olney Transportation Center in North Philadelphia, Frankford Transportation Center in Northeast Philadelphia, 46th Street Station in West Philadelphia, and 1234 Market Street in Center City will be complemented with additional suburban locations in 2012.

Workforce development initiatives also gained traction, including succession planning and employee training initiatives to cultivate the next generation of transit leaders. Volunteerism activities, such as SEPTA's annual participation in Philly Spring Clean-Up Day and outreach to Disadvantage Business Enterprises (DBEs), have extended the benefits of these initiatives to the broader regional community.

Temple Univ. Station Transit-Oriented Development Advances (Source: WRT)


Continued ridership growth in the face of lingering economic uncertainty reflects the success of SEPTA's service initiatives and its enduring value to the regional economy. SEPTA's share of commuter trips increased, signally a potentially historic shift in regional travel patterns. Unlinked passenger trips per capita increased by more than 10 percent between 2006 and 2011 to a new-century high of 2011.

SEPTA continues to prioritize state of good repair, although funding constraints continue to limit capital investment. Grants were received to move forward historic station renovation projects at the Wayne Junction Station and 33rd and Dauphin Bus Loop. SEPTA also advanced development of a Transit Asset Management system, which will allow managers to better compare need and direct funding to yield the greatest return on its capital investments. SEPTA will continue to prioritize state of good repair in its capital program.

Perhaps the best measure of SEPTA's success over the first year of its Sustainability Program is recognition from its peers. In August, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) will bring its annual "Sustainability & Public Transportation Workshop" to Philadelphia, where for three days SEPTA and its partners will host hundreds of the industry's most influential minds in sustainability and environmental policy. Plans are in motion to leverage this opportunity to partner in showcasing sustainability initiatives across the region.

Ridership Grows Four Percent to Highest Mark Since 1989 (334 Million)

Committed to Continual Improvement

SEPTA's Sustainability Program embraces continual improvement, and the notion that performance enhancements can only be sustained by constantly reevaluating progress over time. While well-documented funding challenges continue to constrain levels of capital investment, first-year results have demonstrated that opportunities still exist to advance projects that add value to SEPTA and its region. Working together with its partners, this progress will serve as a foundation for years to come.

US DOT Secretary Ray LaHood Stresses Funding Needs at SEPTA's Bridgeport Viaduct