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Sustainable Practices Gain Traction in Transit & Rail

Insights - APTA Sustainability - Gannett Fleming.
Authors: Stewart Vaghti, PE, CFM, ENV SP, LEED AP, Corporate Sustainability Officer; Scott Sibley, PE, Transit & Rail Senior Vice President, Operations Manager

Gannett Fleming is one of 50 private firms acknowledged by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) for pledging to advance sustainable initiatives. Transit is an integral component of sustainability, and APTA’s recognition of leadership in this area sends a powerful signal to our industry that we are driving positive change by enhancing livable communities.

Commitments to APTA from businesses and transit agencies dedicated to advancing environmental, social, and economic sustainability has grown 15% since 2018. APTA’s upward trend of pledges is ushering in a new era of mobility, as the transit and rail industry heightens society’s awareness of sustainable best practices.

Electrifying Results

The Caltrain Modernization Program is a great example of how transit projects can achieve substantial sustainable outcomes. Gannett Fleming Transit & Rail Systems (GFTRS) is the owner’s representative for electrification support services for the program—a $1.7 billion effort in California to electrify a 52-mile passenger rail route from San Francisco to San Jose.

APTA honored the project with its Silver Level recognition for using 100% renewable power from sources such as wind, solar, and small hydroelectric and for reducing its carbon footprint from electricity by nearly 20%. Caltrain also realized a nearly 50% reduction in water usage per passenger mile. Water efficiency measures were achieved through:

  • Train wash systems that recycle 80% of water used
  • Administrative office water faucets that conserve water flow
  • Landscaping-focused smart irrigation techniques.

Achieving Gold

On the east coast, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) received APTA’s Gold Level sustainability status. GFTRS serves as SEPTA’s engineering consultant for a $19.6 million modernization project to improve its 105-year-old 69th Street West Terminal— a state-of-the-art multimodal facility providing vital transit access to 35,000 SEPTA customers traveling in the Philadelphia region each weekday. Sustainable design features include:

  • Green roofs to reduce stormwater drainage
  • Energy-efficient LED lighting
  • Architectural elements that increase natural light and reduce energy use.

Beyond Transit & Rail

As engineers, architects, planners, and scientists, our commitment to sustainability is part of our core values, which we proudly share with clients, partners, and constituents. In addition to sustainable transit and rail project applications, the benefits of a corporate sustainability program are plentiful.

For example, the evolution of environmental awareness enhances diversity and inclusion initiatives by engaging employees and proliferating success as an organization. These commitments and shared values are as important today as they are for future generations.

For more information contact Stewart Vaghti at or Scott Sibley at We also invite you to learn more about Gannett Fleming’s sustainability program from our Sustainability page and 2018 Corporate Sustainability Report.

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