Monday, April 19, 2010

Earth Day, every day

This Thursday, April 22, marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Earth Day originated on the same date in 1970, when 20 million Americans took to their community streets, parks and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment.

Did you know that taking public transit instead of your own vehicle is one of the simplest ways to reduce your carbon footprint? Each year, public transportation use in the United States saves 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline. And the average public transit rider consumes only half as much oil as an automobile rider uses. If you're curious how large of a footprint your lifestyle leaves, try out the Earth Day Network's Footprint Calculator.

Although Earth Day comes every year, Community Transit works hard to operate like it's Earth Day, every day. Aside from helping you live green, the agency has been active in reducing greenhouse gas emissions for many years. In 2002, we were the first transit agency in the state of Washington to introduce a Clean Diesel program, switching our fleet of buses to ultra-low-sulfur diesel. We installed special particulate traps that lessen tailpipe emissions - buses without these traps produce about one pound of pollution every 52 miles, while our buses must travel more than 500 miles to produce that same amount. We even recycle our bus wash water, which saves almost 13 million gallons of fresh water each year.

From installing solar panels at the Mountlake Terrace Transit Center to generate 5,500 kWh per year - pumping energy back into the local power grid and offsetting 7,700 pounds of carbon dioxide annually, to choosing hybrid vehicles for Swift, our highest-mileage and highest-ridership bus route, we take our core value of environmental stewardship to heart.

But buses aren't the only way to travel greener - Community Transit actively promotes other SOV alternatives. We operate one of the largest vanpool fleets in the nation, as well as connect people to ride sharing services, and we work with about 75 Snohomish county-based employers to help them meet our state's Commute Trip Reduction law. And right now we're gearing up for the annual Snohomish county Bike to Work events, including the Bike to Work Challenge and National Bike to Work Day (learn more at the kickoff event on April 29).

In 2009, Americans took more than 10 billion trips on public transportation. This Earth Day, we thank our riders for helping Community Transit provide 11.3 million of those trips.

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