The Rapid & the Environment
In so many ways, public transportation has a positive effect on our environment and helps protect the quality of life we enjoy. The Rapid is excited to be a recognized leader in the transit industry in enhancing public transportation's role in sustainability.
The Rapid now has two Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings as part of its campus. Rapid Central Station was the first LEED-certified transit facility in the country when it opened in 2004. In early 2012, The Rapid opened its renovated and expanded Rapid Operations Center, which received a Gold LEED rating.
Both facilities were constructed using environmentally-sensitive practices, such as locally sourcing materials wherever possible and recycling construction waste. Each building boasts a number of features to improve its energy efficiency, reduce waste, and provide a healthy environment for our employees.
View the LEED brochure for Rapid Central Station. (496 KB, PDF)
The Rapid has five hybrid-electric buses operating in the fleet. Easily distinguishable by their green roofs, the hybrid buses help The Rapid strengthen its commitment to protecting the environment by burning less fuel and emitting fewer pollutants into the air.
The buses feature a battery-powered electric motor that provides most of the power at slower speeds and a smaller clean diesel engine that takes over at higher speeds.
The Rapid uses ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD). This has a 97% reduction in sulfur content compared to previous fuel formulations. Each bus now emits 90% less pollutants than before.
Buses purchased since 2010 have an exhaust gas recirculation system, a variable fin turbo, and an exahust system catalyst. More recent bus purchases have also included a selective catalyst reduction system which lowers nitrous oxide and particulate matter levels by 98% below unregulated levels.
The Rapid continues to monitor improved technology and alternative fuel advancements as it makes vehicle purchases.
Public transportation reduces our dependence on oil
- Public transportation saves the U.S. the equivalent of 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline annually
- In 2012, Americans took 10.5 billion trips on public transportation. Nearly 12 million of those trips were right here on The Rapid
- Public transportation use saves the equivalent of 900,000 automobile fill-ups every day
- According to the most recent Texas Transportation Institute on traffic congestion, individuals who live in areas served by public transportation save more than 450 million gallons of fuel annually
Public transit gives individuals affordable, energy-efficient alternative transportation choices
- An individual can see an average annual savings of more than $9,900 by taking public transportation instead of driving and by living with one less car
- Household residents living near public transportation drive an average of 4,400 fewer miles annually compared to those that have no access to transit
- The average household in which at least one member uses public transportation on a given day drives 16 fewer miles per day compared to a household that does not use public transportation
- Expanded public transit strategies coordinated with combining travel activity, land use development, and operational efficiencies are estimated to save as much as $112 billion as compared to annual savings in vehicles costs to consumers.
Source: American Public Transportation Association (APTA)
The Rapid is a member of the Community Sustainability Partnership, a diverse network of community organizations in West Michigan that embrace and support sustainability guiding principles in their planning and operations and are striving to make a positive impact in our community. Members of the Partnership are committed to work together to restore environmental integrity, improve economic prosperity, and promote social equity.
Learn more about the Community Sustainability Partnership.
According to a report entitled "Conserving Energy and Preserving the Environment: The Role of Public Transportation" published in 2002:
- For every passenger mile traveled, public transportation produces only a fraction of the harmful pollution of private vehicles; only 5 percent as much carbon monoxide, less than 8 percent as many volatile organic compounds, and nearly half as much carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides.
- Public transportation is reducing emissions of carbon monoxide (CO) by nearly 745,000 tons annually. This equals nearly 75 percent of the CO emissions by all U.S. chemical manufacturers.
- The report concludes that greater use of public transportation offers the most effective strategy available for achieving significant energy savings and environmental gains without imposing new government mandates or regulations on industry or consumers.
Air Quality Action Days
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) monitors air quality throughout the state, and occasionally will declare "Air Quality Action Days." On these days, The Rapid provides free rides througout the entire system to encourage citizens to ride the bus and help improve air quality. These notifications are posted on The Rapid's Facebook page, Twitter feed, and website as promptly as possible. In addition, notification from the DEQ can be found here: http://www.deqmiair.org/actionday.cfm