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SEP-TAINABLE: Five Ways SEPTA is Helping to Green the Region's Environment

By John Golden
Public Information Manager

Public transportation is crucial to regional sustainability and SEPTA is one of the most sustainability-conscious transit agencies in the country. Here are five ways SEPTA is making the region more environmentally friendly:

Hybrids and Fully-electrified buses
The ongoing delivery of 525 hybrid electric buses will be added to the fleet of more than 700 existing hybrids buses. And by next year hybrids will represent 95% of SEPTA's bus fleet. Additionally, two dozen battery-electric buses, (still in testing mode) have just been added. Once fully operational, SEPTA will have the largest fully-electrified bus fleet on the East Coast.

Solar Panels
SEPTA is investing in renewable energy through a Power Purchase Agreement. Three megawatts of roof-mounted solar photovoltaic (PV) panels will be installed at four bus and rail shops across Philadelphia. It's the second largest solar project ever awarded in the City of Philadelphia. These solar panels will generate the equivalent of between 13% & 33% of the buildings annual power supply.

Stormwater Management
The Authority's soon-to-be-completed Southern District Stormwater Retrofit Project in South Philadelphia will be SEPTA's largest stormwater management project to date, capturing more than seven acres of stormwater by installing a bio-retention basin and two large underground detention basins, among other improvements. The new system is designed to capture stormwater and slowly release it into the sewer, significantly reducing the rate of stormwater entering the sewer system, providing better flood control.

In SEPTA's service area, there are both separate sewer systems and combined sewer systems, each of which threaten our local waterways. Green acreage and stormwater management features reduce the amount of water that enters these sewer systems and allows waste water and runoff to be naturally cleaned by the ground instead. By decreasing the amount of water that flows into our sewers, SEPTA can support efforts to reduce local water pollution while also beautifying transit facilities.

Station and Facility Improvements
Multiple rain gardens, green roofs, underground retention basins and other green infrastructure have been integrated into many station and facility projects. In fact, SEPTA has planted 1,281 trees between 2008 and 2015. This means up to 61,400 pounds of carbon are sequestered annually by these new trees.

Wayside Storage Capacity on the Market-Frankford Line
Wayside Energy Storage System (WESS)
The idea behind this technology was to install an energy storage device (think a really big battery) at a SEPTA substation to capture, store, and reuse energy generated from braking trains. The idea and its subsequent implementation has improved energy efficiency and reduced energy demand along the Market-Frankford and Broad Street Lines. SEPTA currently has nine batteries totaling 10.75 MW of storage capacity.

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With a capacity for nearly 80 passengers, the new 40-foot buses are SEPTA's first all-electric fleet and the largest on the East Coast. The buses (still in testing mode) will travel Routes 29 and 79 in South Philadelphia and will be housed at SEPTA's Southern District located at 20th and Johnson Streets.

Large underground detention basins at SEPTA's Southern District in South Philadelphia are part of SEPTA's largest stormwater management project to date.

Part of a major stormwater management retrofit at SEPTA's Southern District, newly planted flowers and shrubs not only help beautify the area surrounding the district but will also filter the stormwater runoff.

Recently installed solar panels at SEPTA's Berridge bus maintenance facility at 2nd & Wyoming in North Philadelphia.

SEPTA's Wayside Energy Storage System (WESS) at the Letterly Substation near Kensington Avenue in Philadelphia. This project has allowed SEPTA to improve its energy efficiency and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by harnessing, storing, and reusing regenerative braking energy on the Market- Frankford Line.