SEPTA goes green by reducing pollution

To expand the “Go Green” campaign, SEPTA announced a new environmental strategy aimed at reducing city pollution during a press conference at Market East station on Tuesday afternoon.

The new campaign promotes the use of public transportation in an attempt to help reduce vehicle emissions throughout the city.

Joseph Casey, SEPTA’s new general manager and a public transit user for 36 years, opened the press conference by encouraging people to use transit system.

“By taking SEPTA, our riders are doing their part to help reduce air pollution, diminish the effects of global warming and minimize our dependence on foreign oil,” Casey said in a recent press release. “Our vehicles and service play an essential role in making the region cleaner, as well as in making it easier for people to live greener.”

Working with SEPTA on the initiative is the Clean Air Council, a non-profit organization that works to enforce environmental laws.

According to the CAC, public transportation produces 95 percent less carbon monoxide per passenger mile than private vehicles.

Speaking after Casey was Joseph Minott, executive director for the CAC, who applauded SEPTA’s efforts in going green.

“You can not address the city’s clean air problem without public transportation,” Minott said.

In a statement from 2004, Minott opposed a SEPTA contingency plan that included fare increases and service cuts in response to a $62 million budget deficit.

“Steep fare increases and wide-ranging service reductions are, under no circumstances, acceptable solutions to SEPTA’s budget shortfalls,” Minott said.

SEPTA also has plans to add 400 new diesel-electric hybrid buses to its existing 32 between 2008 and 2011. In addition to being more fuel efficient, the buses will reduce carbon monoxide emissions by 80 percent and carbon dioxide by 38 percent. The buses will also be equipped to operate on a new, cleaner, ultra-low sulfur fuel.

Concerns have been raised in the past over the effectiveness of hybrid buses following a University of Connecticut study in 2005 that found particulate emissions from diesel and hybrid buses were identical in on-road testing. The study found that benefit came only from the use of diesel particulate filters, which will be installed on the future SEPTA hybrid vehicles.

The announcement of the new initiative comes in advance of next month’s Philadelphia Flower Show, held annually at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

According to SEPTA, tens of thousands of visitors use public transit to attend the show each year, where more than $1 million is raised and invested in the Philadelphia Green program to beautify the city through horticulture.

Kriston Bethel can be reached at kbethel@temple.edu.

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