As we begin this New Year, the San Mateo County Transit District, would like to take a moment to reflect on some of its “green” achievements in 2015.  The District is the administrative body for the principal public transit and transportation programs in San Mateo County: SamTrans bus service, including Redi-Wheels paratransit service, and Caltrain commuter rail.

Here are the Top 10 District Sustainability Program highlights from the past year:

1. Reduced SamTrans water use by 53 percent and Caltrain water use by 35 percent in June-December 2015 compared to 2013, by adjusting exterior bus wash schedules, reducing landscape irrigation, installing high-efficiency faucet aerators, promptly fixing leaks, and providing water-saving tips through restroom and kitchen signage.

2. Improved waste management processes.

A. District Headquarters in San Carlos – implemented a composting program and streamlined waste bins and signage.

• 34 percent landfill waste reduction, equivalent to the waste produced by 65 California households. This means 71 percent of Central’s waste gets recycled or composted instead of going to landfill.
• 15 percent cost savings
on Recology garbage bills, without increasing janitorial costs.
• 70 percent staff participation
in the Earth Day 2015 Challenge to voluntarily give up deskside landfill bins. This means 25,000–40,000 fewer plastic bag liners are going to landfill each year.
• 14 training sessions
and a handy training manual helped educate staff on what goes in the compost, recycle and landfill/trash bins.

B. North and South Bus Bases and Brewster location – similar efforts coming your way in 2016.
C. Caltrain
– check out the Caltrain Recycling webpage for more information.

3. Received a 2015 BizSMART@Work Award from Recology and RethinkWaste for achievements in waste management.

4. Launched SamTrans and Caltrain sustainability webpages.  These public-facing webpages highlight the environmental and community benefits of riding public transit, as well as the District’s ongoing commitment to sustainability in our operating and maintenance programs, capital projects, long-term planning, and everyday business practices.  Check out the “Sustainability in Action” subpages for examples.

5. Introduced paperless direct deposit pay statements. 

6. Integrated sustainability into Capital Budget Evaluation Criteria, to inform the prioritization of SamTrans and Caltrain capital project funding.

7. Allocated funding for energy-efficient lighting upgrades at the Bases, to replace existing fixtures with LEDs that will save energy while reducing operational and maintenance costs.

8. Continued investigation of electric bus technologies as a cleaner alternative to diesel.  SamTrans staff and Board members had the opportunity to view all-electric bus models and meet with manufacturers during on-site visits and at the APTA Expo.

9. Partnered with Sea Change San Mateo County to assess sea level rise vulnerabilities and adaptation options for key District facilities.

10. Celebrated Earth Day with a guest speaker on water conservation, employee tour of the Shoreway Recycling Center and Transfer Station, and “Earth Day Every Day” electronic messages at Caltrain stations and on SamTrans bus headsigns.

Many of these efforts are ongoing and there are more in the pipeline – sustainability is about continuous improvement and thoughtful collaboration.

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