TransLink Sustainability and Earth Day 2012
April 20, 2012
Sustainable transportation = sustainable region
Putting numbers to TransLink’s role
As the world marks Earth Day on Sunday, April 22, one of the key factors in Metro Vancouver’s world-renowned livability is the sustainability of its transportation system. TransLink, which has responsibility for that system, is already not just meeting the standard but setting it for the public transportation industry.
The American Public Transit Association (APTA) awarded TransLink’s sustainability strategy Gold status in 2011, due to efforts on a variety of fronts, including improved fuel consumption, ridership and accessibility.
As TransLink has replaced older diesel buses with “clean” diesels, which consume less fuel, and use ultra-low-sulphur fuel and particulate traps on the exhaust system, consumption has dropped from 61.4 litres per 100 kilometres in 2008 to 55.7 litres so far in 2012. Between 2009 and 2011, total diesel fuel consumption dropped by 1.64 million litres, which translates into a $2 million savings. Not only does reducing consumption save money, it also reduces exposure to fluctuating price changes.
About one third of the reduced consumption was realized through the “Idle-Free CMBC” program mounted by Coast Mountain Bus Company, which was recognized by the Canadian Urban Transit Association with a 2011 National Transit Corporate Recognition Award for Exceptional Performance/Outstanding Achievement.
Increasing transit usage continues to climb, with more than 354.7 million trips in 2011 – a 5.5 per cent increase over 2010. This was achieved without an increase in bus service hours.
Making transit accessible to more people, regardless of physical or cognitive ability, is another cornerstone of sustainability in transportation. Despite a freeze in service hours, HandyDART carried more than 1.2 million trips in 2011 than in 2010 – an increase of 4.4 per cent. Accessible bus stops now make up 61 per cent of bus stops region-wide: in 2007, that figure was only 50 per cent. While the TransLink fleet has been fully accessible since 2008, safe, accessible boarding and disembarking is vital to creating a truly accessible system. It also helps reduce pressure on custom transit service.
TransLink helps support its sustainability initiatives through carbon offsets. Over 15,000 tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalents) were sold to the Pacific Carbon Trust in 2010 and 2011 through a Low Carbon and Electric Vehicle Offset Project. That project, North America’s first public transit carbon offset initiative, was developed in partnership with BC Transit.
TransLink continues to work on ways of improving the factors that have earned it the APTA Gold level in sustainability – a goal that both saves money and helps us all breathe a bit easier.
A backgrounder follows below.
Earth Day 2012 Backgrounder