Environmental Stewardship | Community Transit

Environmental Stewardship

An employee recycles his plastic bottle at work.Environmental Stewardship is one of our agency's Core Values.

It influences the decisions we make with every transit center we build, every bus we put on the road and every vehicle we maintain.

Here are ways Community Transit and our customers help make as little impact on the environment as possible:

  • Each weekday, about 36,5911 transit riders remove vehicles from the roads we all use.
    • One person with a 20-mile round trip commute who switches from driving to public transit can reduce his or her daily carbon emissions by 20 pounds, or more than 4,800 pounds in a year. 2
    • A single commuter switching his or her commute to public transportation can reduce a household’s carbon emissions by 10 percent and up to 30 percent if he or she eliminates a second car. 2
  • Our fleet of Double Tall double-decker buses eases congestion, carrying more passengers in less road space. In fact, a Double Tall seats 77 passengers-- 49 upstairs and 28 downstairs!
  • Traffic moves more efficiently along Highway 99 as a result of our Swift bus rapid transit service, a cleaner hybrid vehicle on our highest ridership route.
  • Community Transit vanpools tranport about 3,402 * riders each weekday to and from work, keeping additional single-occupant vehicles off the road.
  • Mountlake Terrace and Smokey Point transit centers feature recycled building materials and native plant use to reduce stormwater runoff.
  • Mountlake Terrace uses solar panels to offset the energy used to operate its lighting. They generate 5,500 kWh per year, pumping energy back into the local power grid and offsetting 7,700 pounds of carbon dioxide annually.
  • Community Transit is one of the first public transit agencies in the world to use the The Greenroads™ system, a third-party, points-based system, similar to other ‘green building’ rating systems such as LEED or GreenGlobes (but appropriate for roadway and transit infrastructure projects.)

Environmental Accomplishments So Far


  • Reduced hazardous waste generation from 40,000 pounds per year to 360 pounds.
  • Established an extensive recycling program, including steel and concrete recycling for construction of the Mountlake Terrace parking garage and Smokey Point Transit Center.
  • Improved spill response program, reducing total clean-up time by 75 percent.


  • Purchased a closed system for cleaning particulate traps that fit over the exhaust pipe on our buses, enabling traps to be reused; one of the first such systems in the United States.


  • Recycle bus wash water, saving 12.8 million gallons of fresh water each year, and reducing the load for wastewater utility.
  • Using compost leaf filters to treat stormwater runoff, protecting local streams and Puget Sound; Community Transit was the first organization in Washington to use these filters.


  • Operate one of the country’s largest vanpool programs-- a 74 percent annual reduction in greenhouse gas emissions for those riders.
  • Use hybrid vehicles for support staff, and hybrid buses for Swift bus rapid transit, saving fuel and reducing dependence on fossil fuels.
  • Employed solar panels and energy-efficient lighting at the Mountlake Terrace Transit Center.

One of the First to Implement an Environmental and Sustainability Management System (ESMS)

A picture of construction plans and checklist for Greenroads CertificationIn 2004, Community Transit joined with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and nine other transit agencies from across the United States to develop and implement an Environmental and Sustainability Management System (ESMS).

ESMS is a way of reducing our impact on the environment using the “Plan, Do, Check, Act” model for our operational processes and the products we use. We also have an Environmental Policy Statement (PDF).

ESMS allows us to:

  1. Analyze our impact on the environment
  2. Establish programs for reducing negative environmental effects.
  3. Monitor progress towards these goals.

The end result is greater efficiency and control, as well as a better environment.

What have we accomplished? Cleaner air, cleaner water, less waste and more energy efficiency!

Community Transit System Performance Report: Year End 2016
2 APTA Dump the Pump Transit Facts, 2016