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Earth Day and Beyond

Friday, April 19, 2019

Earth Day

Did you know that Earth Day, April 22nd, is the largest secular observance in the world? What began as a day of environment preservation in the U.S. is now a large-scale push global movement for clean habitats around the world! Earth Day is proof that one person can make a global impact in a positive way.

In 1970, the United States celebrated its first Earth Day. More than 20 million people across the U.S. held rallies and participated in activities to promote a clean and safe environment. Children, adults, students young and old marched on government institutions pushing for new legislation to protect the Earth on local, state and federal levels.

At the SFMTA, where we oversee all of San Francisco’s ground transportation, Earth Day’s message of sustainability is embedded in nearly every aspect of what we do. Overall, the SFMTA has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 90 percent since 1990. There’s a reason we’re one of just four agencies to have received Platinum Level status for sustainability from the American Public Transportation Association.

We are also working with local, regional, state and federal partners to increase the resiliency of the city and the multimodal transportation sector by advancing a number of projects including: implementation of the Sea Level Rise Action Plan, partnering with the Army Corps of Engineers and BART on conducting a vulnerability assessment of the Embarcadero Station and developing the Southeast Mobility Adaptation Strategy which will develop innovative adaptation strategies in the vicinity of Islais Creek.

Here are a few highlights of the recent progress we’ve made in making SF more sustainable:

Muni’s fleet is now one of the greenest in North America.

  • Over 50 percent of the transit fleet, including light rail, cable cars, historic streetcars and electric trolley buses are largely powered by greenhouse gas-free hydropower generated by Hetch Hetchy.
  • Beyond that, MTA’s new electric hybrid buses use 100 percent renewable fuel.

Fun fact: Muni carries 26 percent of all trips in the city, but accounts for less than two percent of the transportation sector emissions.

Biking in San Francisco

  • Our Bike Program supports four goals to make bicycling part of everyday life in San Francisco:
    • Improve the safety and connectivity of San Francisco's Bike Network.
    • Make bicycling a more convenient transportation option through amenities like better bike parking and an expanded bike and scooter sharing system.
    • Use outreach and education to increase bicycle ridership, especially in underserved populations.
    • Plan and deliver projects that make bicycling and other non-private auto modes, the preferred way of getting around. MTA is also updating its Bike Strategy which will provide a framework for continued investments in the city’s bike network.
  • 92 miles of bike infrastructure projects - SFMTA plans to invest more than $112 million in bike infrastructure over the next 5 years (2017-2021) which will improve safety, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build healthy communities.

We’re moving our agency towards zero waste and less water consumption.

  • At all SFMTA facilities, we’re prioritizing efforts to reduce waste and increase recycling and composting, to meet the goal of Zero Waste by 2020 for all city departments. In the past year alone, we’ve diverted 109,584 cubic yards of waste from the landfill.
  • Forest Hill Irrigation Improvement Project - The project aims to significantly reduce water usage at the Forest Hill Muni Station by replacing the station area’s 40-year-old irrigation system. It will also reduce a portion of the sod area, replacing existing sod with a new variety that requires less water, and introducing drought tolerant and native plants.

Celebrating Earth Day

Celebrations start this Saturday, April 20 at the Earth Day festival on Valencia Street between 19th & 20th or the Earth Day 2019 Beach Cleanup at Aquatic Park.

And if you love Muni history as much as you love the planet, join the SFMTA Photo Archive at the San Francisco Zoo Earth Day Event on April 20th from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Find our display near the main entrance, including transit and mobility action tips for a sustainabile future, as well as the history of the L Taraval and Muni's role in green transit. Muni riders get $1 off zoo admission.