When people choose to take the T instead of drive, they help save more than 25 million gallons of gasoline every year, or 24 pounds of carbon emissions per person per day.
Even so, getting 1 million people to their destinations and back every day makes the MBTA the largest consumer of energy in Massachusetts and in New England. Tracking, managing, and reducing our energy consumption is an important piece of our infrastructure.
Since 2015, the MBTA has reduced greenhouse gases by nearly 16% and overall utility costs by 28%.
Tracking Energy Consumption
To track and manage energy consumption, the MBTA uses an Environmental Management System (EMS). The MBTA’s sustainability team adheres to the ISO 14001 framework, the international benchmark for quality EMS training and use.
The EMS used by the MBTA tracks “Energy Consumption per Passenger Trip” and “Energy Consumption per Mile,” among other things. The current system includes data from 2009 to today and tracks the use of electricity, diesel, gasoline, CNG, steam, and jet fuel.
Turbines located near the Kingston Layover Facility and the Bridgewater Commuter Rail station help power MBTA facilities. The energy produced at both can also be sold back to the power grid.
Power used directly by the MBTA at Kingston helps keeps trains warm overnight during freezing weather. Without these resources, the trains would need to idle overnight to keep up with service demands.
Both turbines were funded by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the Transportation Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reductions (TIGGER), and a grant from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC).
Existing solar arrays at the Readville 5 Yard and Wonderland Parking Garage have a capacity of 2,600 kW and produce a minimum of 1,700,000 kWh. The MBTA purchases electricity produced at these facilities to offset other energy consumption.
Plans were recently approved to open new solar arrays at 37 T-owned parking facilities, which will generate $55 million in income and savings in the next 20 years. The locations will reduce electricity and snow removal costs for the MBTA, and support the state’s expanding renewable energy infrastructure.
Sustainable Cleaning Programs
Washing MBTA Vehicles
In 2015, the MBTA piloted a program with Wentworth Institute students to wash buses more efficiently. In its first year, the program helped save 600,000 gallons of water at the Lynn Maintenance Facility.
Each bus is outfitted with an RFID tag that tracks its washing schedule. When it goes through the fueling and maintenance system, it skips the wash cycle if it’s already been washed within a certain number of days. If fully implemented at all bus facilities, it could save 6.6 million gallons of water every year.
Sanitizing MBTA Vehicles
In 2015, the MBTA worked with the Toxic Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at UMass Lowell to evaluate the feasibility of using environmentally friendly sanitizing products on buses.
The resulting products clean the fleets better, are easier to use, and do not expose employees or customers to harmful toxins.
More than 70,000 light fixtures help MBTA customers navigate through transit stations and platforms.
Until recently, the majority of these fixtures used inefficient fluorescent bulbs. Swapping those out for T-8 and induction fixtures has saved the MBTA $783 for every kW, or nearly $1 million a year.
MBTA signals are lit by 2,300 specially-made LED bulbs. While the old incandescent signal bulbs lasted only 6 weeks, the new LED bulbs can last up to 8 years, using a 12th of the energy of an incandescent.
In the first 3 years after the bulbs were installed, the MBTA was able to save over $1 million in maintenance costs for signal lights.