BART releases Sustainability Report showing progress toward goals despite COVID pandemic


BART releases Sustainability Report showing progress toward goals despite COVID pandemic

BART has released its annual Sustainability Report this week, detailing progress BART has made toward its sustainability goals despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

"BART’s commitment to sustainability is unwavering, and we are both literally and figuratively on the right track," said BART General Manager Bob Powers in his introductory statement for the 2020 Sustainability Report.

The biggest change in 2020 to advance BART and the Bay Area toward a greener future was the opening of the Milpitas and Berryessa/North San Jose stations in June 2020. The two new stations help connect BART to San Jose, the most populous city in the Bay Area, and work as transit hubs to local bus service to help shorten travel times, reduce local congestion, and lower greenhouse gas emissions from cars. 

The stations also are energy-efficient by design. Tire-derived aggregate, which is a 100% recycled material, was used underneath the trackway to reduce vibration and saved the equivalent of 300,800 tires from being sent to waste. Bioretention facilities and low-flow pumps were installed at both stations to help mitigate flooding during large rain events. The station escalators also use motion sensors to conserve energy when there is no foot traffic.

In 2020, more Fleet of the Future trains were added into service, with now 280 cars in operation. The new cars are built to be at least 7% more energy efficient than legacy vehicles with features such as LED lighting, improved regenerative braking, and lightweight exteriors.

BART is advancing sustainability goals not only as a transit service but also as a member of the 5-county Bay Area community to build housing and create greener, transit-oriented neighborhoods in its owned station lands. In 2020, two apartment buildings at Pleasant Hill and MacArthur were completed in 2020, adding 602 new residential units, of which 56 are affordable. At the MacArthur Transit Village, the new developments and residentail buildings were coupled with access improvements such as a new bike station, improved lighting and wayfinding, and additional seating for riders.

BART is also making it easier for the public to know where its energy sources are coming from. In 2020, BART published its first annual Power Content Label (PCL) under the California Energy Commission’s Power Source Disclosure (PSD) program, which profiles the supply sources comprising BART’s 2019 wholesale electric portfolio. Upwards of 92% of BART’s 2019 power supply was sourced from greenhouse gas-free (GHG-free) energy sources. In 2020, 100% of BART’s contracted electricity supply was GHG-free. BART has plans to bring in solar and wind energy to serve approximately 50% of BART's annual electricity requirements starting in calendar year 2022.

In 2020, the Bay Area was heavily impacted by COVID-19, and BART responded with a variety of changes to ensure riders and employees were kept safe. BART outlined its changes in the Welcome Back Plan, which included revamping daily cleaning procedures across the system, running long trains to ensure riders can socially distance, making facemasks available for free at agent booths at stations, and collaborating with local partners to open COVID testing sites on BART station property. Many of these changes exemplify BART’s efforts to build awareness of transit’s relationship to public health, which is an action outlined in BART’s Sustainability Action Plan.

Some sustainability practices are more entertaining than others. To mitigate future wildfire risks, BART uses goats to graze and cut firebreaks on about 45 acres of BART’s properties. BART Communications followed along with a herd of 700 Spanish-Boer cross goats grazing near Fremont Station in July, and the videos went viral with CBS News nicknaming them "BART Goats".