Two Puget Sound Transit Systems First in Nation to Earn “Gold” Standard

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Sound Transit and Intercity Transit Recognized for Sustainability Leadership

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) recently awarded Seattle-based Sound Transit and Olympia-based Intercity Transit the nation's first "Gold" signatory status level for their individual agency commitments to sustainability.

The APTA Sustainability Commitment award recognizes organizations in the public transportation industry for their work preserving the environment, reducing waste, modeling social responsibility and helping bolster economic vitality in the regions they serve. APTA has four levels of recognition: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. To reach each level, agencies must show that they are maintaining an effective environmental compliance program and making continuous sustainability improvements. The Gold status indicates the agencies are becoming highly efficient in their management of natural resources, including energy, air pollutants, greenhouse gas emissions and water.

"Intercity Transit's sustainability efforts extend to every area of the agency and are embraced by its employees and leadership alike," said Intercity Transit General Manager Mike Harbour. "Our work is about making the community a better place to live by providing a diversity of quality transportation services, implementing innovative programs, developing successful partnerships, and acting as a good public steward of the environment we all share."

"Sustainability is a major priority in everything we do," said Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl. "It extends to more than offering fast and convenient services that take cars off the road. This recognition by APTA reflects other efforts that span everything from reducing emissions from our vehicles to incorporating sustainability into our project blueprints to using less paper around the office."

The two transit systems are among a short list of transit agencies nationwide practicing or pursuing Environmental Management System certification under standard 14001 of the International Organization for Standardization (, sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration.

The American Public Transportation Association is a large trade association of public and private organizations engaged in public transportation work throughout North America. APTA began its Sustainability Commitment program in 2009 to support the adoption of economic, environmental and social sustainability principles in the public transit industry and define the contributions of public transportation to sustainability and livability objectives.

"APTA applauds the work that Intercity Transit and Sound Transit have been doing to become more sustainable and recognizes them for the Gold Standard they are setting on sustainability for the transit industry," said APTA Vice President of Strategy, Petra Mollet.

Sustainability at Intercity Transit

Intercity Transit has a long history with sustainability, including being one of the first transit systems in the nation to fuel its entire fleet of buses with clean-burning biodiesel in 2001 and more recently, to introduce hybrid electric buses to the South Puget Sound region. The system has a reputation for its innovative partnerships, which currently focus on transit-supportive land use, congestion mitigation, and K-12 youth education. The agency has a robust recycling program, as well as an idle-reduction and driver efficiency training program, and is opening its newest park and ride lot atop a portion of a former landfill near Interstate-5.

The system has seen ridership jump over 80 percent in the past decade and witnessed its highest ridership in its 31-year history in 2011. About one-fifth of all Intercity Transit employees use the bus or another transportation option to get to and from work.

More information is available at

Sustainability at Sound Transit

Sound Transit continues to advance the agency's work by focusing its efforts on achieving its 2012 Sustainability Targets including:

  • Incorporating sustainability considerations into early planning processes
  • Integrating sustainable design criteria into major capital projects
  • Enhancing "best practices" for sustainable construction

Sound Transit's Sustainability Initiative encompasses all aspects of agency planning and operations. The agency's signatory status was upgraded to "Gold" after initially receiving a "Silver" status in 2010. Sound Transit's updates its sustainability program regularly and sets new goals annually.

The full plan and goals can be found at sustainability

Intercity Transit and Sound Transit, along with TransLink in Vancouver, B.C., hold the highest sustainability credentials in North America, according to the APTA.