VIEWS: Metrorail System Expands Sustainably

Dispatch from SSC Intern Julie Holst

The Washington D.C. Metrorail system was established to provide safe and efficient transportation in an area recorded to have the third worst traffic congestion in the country. The Metrorail saves time, gas money, parking woes, and significant amounts of frustration for an average of over 750,000 riders each day. The Metrobus system attracts over 450,000 riders each day for the same reasons. Needless to say, by removing these riders from private automobiles, the city’s carbon footprint from commuting is greatly reduced.

Metro continues to expand its environmental commitment by adding hybrid vehicles to its fleet, evaluating proposals to reduce energy consumption at seven facilities (and using energy cost savings to fund projects), and applying for Cleaning Renewable Energy Bonds to fund solar power at six metro facilities. However, changing facilities has its own affects on the environment.

Building activities contribute to almost half of all carbon dioxide emissions. To address this problem, the District of Columbia requires that all new construction and substantial improvements of District-owned projects achieve a LEED Silver rating. The board of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is encouraging the community, and especially its metro system, to adopt a sustainable way of thinking and reduce its carbon footprint. To assist with this reduction, WMATA aims to design and construct all new substantially rehabilitated WMATA facilities with the goal of achieving LEED certification.

What else could public transport systems do to grow in a sustainable way and attract even more users?

Learn more by reading the WMATA Board of Directors Decision Protocol (Policy on LEED Certification) by clicking here.