In 2011, MTD embarked upon the creation of an Environmental and Sustainability Management System (ESMS). It started with attending the EMS Institute at Virginia Tech University, which defines an environmental management system as "a set of management processes and procedures that allows an organization to analyze, control and reduce the environmental impact of its activities, products, and services and operate with greater efficiency and control. An ESMS is appropriate for all kinds of organizations of varying sizes in public and private sectors."
The basic elements of an ESMS include:
As an additional demonstration of our commitment to preserving the environment, MTD voluntarily signed on to the pilot phase of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Sustainability Commitment.
This commitment sets out common sustainability principles, an action plan, and a course for progress. As a signatory organization, MTD agreed to adhere to the following base principles within one year:
Our sustainability efforts have expanded since the initial signing of this commitment in 2009. MTD is in the process of obtaining a higher recognition level by completing additional actions, putting long-term processes in place, and attaining reduction targets for a series of set indicators.
Sustainable practices are also implemented in our offices, maintenance shops, and throughout Illinois Terminal.
Environmentally-friendly cleaning products are used in all three MTD facilities. Paper products used at MTD facilities are made with post-consumer recycled content. This includes office paper, paper towels, toilet paper, letterhead, business cards, and envelopes.
Recycling is readily available for employees and visitors at all MTD facilities. Bins for paper, plastic, cardboard, batteries, ink cartridges, toner, eyeglasses, and wireless phones are easily accessed.
Lights/monitors are dimmed and/or turned off manually or by motion detectors when not in use. Building staff has fine-tuned heating and air conditioning practices to reduce energy usage throughout the year thanks to geothermal technologies, a chiller, and recycled heat.
Internal communications encourage employees to exercise sustainable behaviors. An article is included in the monthly internal newsletter on sustainability topics. An employee sustainability committee meets once a month to brainstorm and implement green projects. An Executive Sustainability Committee also meets once a week to discuss larger initiatives like our Environmental and Sustainability Management System. An employee resource guide outlines MTD’s environmental policies, employee responsibilities, and green business features.
Two bus simulators were introduced in 2010 to train, retrain, and test drivers. Not only do operators use the simulators but maintenance technicians, dispatchers, staff, and all other employees who have Commercial Driver’s Licenses are trained on the simulators. The simulators decrease the amount of training time on the road, which translates to reduced fuel consumption, emissions, traffic, and wear and tear on the buses and roads. Read more about the incorporation of this advanced technology in a previous issue of our enewsletter, STOPtalk, and check out this feature in APTA's Passenger Transport.
MTD received a grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation to install ten solar powered systems for bus shelters to run the lighting. Specifications and compliance with regulatory bodies are pending.
All MTD buses use government regulated ultra-low sulfur fuel and also use a percent of soybean biodiesel fuel in each tank. MTD began testing the viability of soy biodiesel fuel in 1994. By 2005, the practice was fully implemented into our fleet. Each year, MTD uses approximately 40,000 gallons of soybean biodiesel.
Hybrid buses were first introduced to Champaign-Urbana in 2009. Since then, MTD has gradually increased the percentage of hybrid buses in our fleet. Of our 102 bus fleet, 55 buses are now diesel-electric hybrids. The District also purchased five hybrid vans in October 2010. Learn what goes on when a delivery of new hybrids arrives and how MTD prepares to put the buses in service.
An Idling Procedure was instituted in April 2009. The purpose of this procedure is to protect public health and improve the environment by reducing noise and emissions while conserving fuel. Less idling time reduces wear and tear on engines, lengthens engine life, saves money, and contributes to a cleaner, quieter environment.
No MTD vehicle is to idle more than three minutes, unless the weather is prohibitive. If a layover or standby exceeds three minutes, engines must be shut down within 30 seconds of arrival at the layover or standby point.
Exterior lights on MTD buses are transitioning from incandescent to energy efficient LED bulbs.
Thanks to research by University of Illinois’ Associate Professor Xinlei Wang, MTD uses diesel particulate filters to successfully remove diesel particulate matter (soot) from the exhaust of a diesel engine before it enters the air.
A partnership began in 2007 between MTD and the University of Illinois to research the effectiveness of diesel particulate filters on four test buses. The results showed particulate matter reduced by 90 percent! In 2010, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency awarded funds to MTD to purchase 43 diesel particulate filters to retrofit all of our older coaches. Currently, the filters are one of the significant aspects for our ESMS to formalize the completion of this project.
When new buses are added to our fleet, they are delivered to Champaign-Urbana with the filters already installed. MTD’s fleet is operating with diesel particulate filters to ensure our service emits the least amount of pollution possible so that we may become a clean burning fleet.
To learn more about this fleet-wide initiative, read this post from our blog, The Inside Lane.
Zipcar, an international car-sharing program, has parked in the C-U area. MTD was a lead agency to bring the car share program to Champaign, Urbana, and campus. Other agencies included the City of Champaign, City of Urbana, and the University of Illinois.
Champaign Urbana Urbanized Area Transportation Study (CUUATS) is the transportation entity of the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC), which is the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) responsible for administering the federally mandated transportation planning process for the Champaign-Urbana-Savoy-Bondville Urbanized Area. MTD partners frequently with both CUUATS and CCRPRC on plans, public events, and data collection. A current project includes the CUUATS Long Range Transportation Plan update titled Sustainable Choices 2040. Like CUUATS and the LRTP Sustainable Choices on Facebook for updated communications.
MTD is a member of the technical committee working to update the 2013 Greenways & Trails (GT) Plan: Active Choices. The GT Plan is an effort coordinated by the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC) with local agencies to develop the county greenways and trails system. CCRPC received a grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) in 2011 to update the 2004 GT Plan. The plan update, titled Active Choices, will be designed to "provide guidance and a framework to ensure Champaign County's desire to create a bikeable, walkable, and environmentally aware and active community" (Website).
MTD is working to create mode choice in our community with miPLAN: Mobility Implementation Plan. miPlan markets and plans modes of transportation choices in the community. The purpose is to find what mobility options Champaign, Urbana and Savoy want and need as a community, both now and in the future, then crafts a plan to bring those options to fruition.
The Campus Area Transportation Study (CATS) is an ongoing, cooperative research and planning body that consists of the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, City of Champaign, City of Urbana, and the University of Illinois. The mission of this group is "to better accommodate pedestrian, bicycle, transit, and vehicle movements in a more user-friendly environment."
As a member of CATS, MTD provides resources and staff to support community transportation projects such as Light the Night. This annual bicycle light distribution and installation campaign provides front and rear lights for campus and community members at no cost to the bike rider! This event is funded by CATS organizations, including MTD, Champaign Cycle, The Bike Project of Urbana-Champaign, C-U Safe Routes to School Project, and Planet Bike.
"Park and Ride" for University of Illinois faculty and staff enable employees to park at a remote location and take a MTD bus into campus. This alleviates parking congestion on campus and reduces commute times. Faculty and staff use Lot E-14 in Champaign and in Urbana there is a surface lot as well as a parking garage on University & Goodwin.