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Keeping Score on the SFMTA’s Sustainability Efforts on Earth Day

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Muni bus on the 29 Sunset route on the recently-redesigned Mansell Street in McLaren Park.
A hybrid electric Muni bus on Mansell Street in McLaren Park, which was recently redesigned with a beautiful path for walking and biking.

Earth Day was started in 1970 to foster forward-thinking initiatives that would benefit the environment and the planet. At the SFMTA, we continue to meet that call to action with more achievements each year.

As Mayor Ed Lee announced this week, San Francisco reduced its greenhouse gas emissions to 28 percent below the 1990 levels in 2015, two years ahead of our goal to do so by 2017. Greenhouse gas emissions come from electricity, natural gas, fuel, waste and transportation, which is one of the largest contributors in the city, at about 46 percent (mostly from cars and trucks).

At the SFMTA, where we oversee Muni and all of San Francisco’s surface transportation, Earth Day’s message of sustainability is embedded in nearly every aspect of what we do every day.

Overall, the SFMTA has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 90 percent since 1990. In just the past year, we reduced our carbon footprint by nearly 45 percent. 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.

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

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

  • More of Muni’s motor buses than ever have hybrid gas and electric engines, and they now all run on 100 percent renewable diesel, which emits 60 percent less carbon than petroleum diesel.
  • More than 40 percent of Muni vehicles are zero-emission trains, streetcars, trolley buses and cable cars, which run on 100 percent renewable electric power.

Most trips in San Francisco are made by walking, biking and transit.

  • Since at least 2012, we’ve exceeded our goal of having more than 50 percent of trips in SF made by transportation options other than private vehicles. In 2015, 53 percent of the estimated 4 million daily trips were taken using a means other than a private car.
  • Bicycling, the original zero-emission vehicle, has grown by 184 percent since 2006, and SF adds four new bicycle commuters on average each day.
  • In 2017, eight miles of transformative street projects will be under construction to make them friendlier for walking and biking.
  • For the trips that are made by taxi, 97 percent of the taxis regulated by the SFMTA are alternative fuel/zero emission vehicles, not including those with wheelchair-accessible ramps.

We’re moving our agency towards zero waste.

  • 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.
  • We’ve reduced water use for landscape irrigation by 99 percent since 2013. All of our agency’s water fixtures will be upgraded to save water by the end of the year.

Celebrating Earth Day

You can celebrate the planet on Earth Day this Saturday, April 22 at the Earth Day festival at Civic Center Plaza. Learn more about it and other events taking place this weekend in this week’s “On Tap” post.