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May 2008



Rail News: Passenger Rail

New York MTA eyes sustainability initiatives



Last month, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced it will adopt a series of initiatives aimed at improving sustainability throughout the agency. The authority is following the preliminary recommendations of MTA’s Commission on Sustainability, which MTA created in September 2007.

The commission’s preliminary report includes more than 20 recommendations. So far, MTA has committed to: derive 7 percent of its energy needs from solar, wind and other renewable sources by 2015; partner with state agencies in the governor’s Smart Growth Cabinet to promote transit-oriented development; develop green design standards for facilities based on the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design ratings; and identify uses for groundwater in MTA tunnels and properties.

For example, MTA plans to power a “significant portion” of the Roosevelt Island Subway Station with renewable tidal energy generated in the East River; add a high-performance roof at Metro-North’s Harmon Yard Shop, and a white roof at the MTA Long Island Rail Road Hillsdale facility; and offer incentive packages from various state agencies to encourage development at or near MTA stations.

“We have an obligation to be good corporate leaders and participate in creating more sustainable communities,” says commission member and MTA Metro-North Railroad President Peter Cannito.

Metro-North has taken several steps of late to improve sustainability. The agency is promoting transit-oriented development efforts at several stations, seeking ways to use recycled water at a new Harmon Yard carwash, installing compact fluorescent light bulbs at Grand Central Terminal and using low-sulfur fuel in locomotives. In addition, Metro-North’s new M-8 cars will feature regenerative braking capabilities, meaning the energy created while the car is braking will be put back into the overhead catenary.

“We were doing a lot, and we’re finding there’s even more we do,” says Cannito.

Sustainability commission members will continue to meet throughout the year and release a final set of recommendations by 2008’s end.

— Angela Cotey



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