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Rhode Island Transit Authority wins EPA Clean Air Excellence Award

Release Date: 09/20/2012
Contact Information: Dave Deegan, 617-918-1017

(Boston, Mass.—September 20, 2012) The public transportation agency in Rhode Island was one of 11 organizations and companies nationwide recognized recently by the US Environmental Protection Agency for an innovative clean air initiative.

The Free Zoo & Trolley Too! initiative of the RI Public Transit Authority was among the projects recognized at the 12th annual Clean Air Excellence Awards in Washington DC. The Rhode Island program offered residents free rides to the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence on clean, alternative transportation.

“The 42-year-old Clean Air Act challenges communities to help protect the public health, our communities and the economy through innovative initiatives,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “The Rhode Island project fit the bill with its innovative approach to transportation. Free Zoo and Trolley Too! gave passengers a positive transit experience at the same time it reduced air pollution.”

“RIPTA is most excited to be nationally recognized for our innovative ‘Free Zoo and Trolley too’ marketing campaign,” said Cristy Raposo, Marketing Coordinator. “While our primary mission is to provide safe and efficient transportation to our riders, we recognize and value the importance of preserving and protecting our environment. Through programs like this, we will continue to demonstrate our commitment to improving air quality for all Rhode Islanders.”

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority, known as RIPTA, offered Rhode Islanders a free and environmentally-friendly way to travel to the local zoo. From May to September 2011, the program ran free hybrid/diesel red trolleys to the zoo the first Saturday of the month. These new vehicles run quieter and cleaner and are expected to help RIPTA save some 20 percent on fuel costs.

The program, done in partnership with the Roger Williams Park Zoo, encouraged city residents to leave their cars at home and try transit at no cost. Ridership doubled on the first day of this promotion. Other forms of encouragement were flyers that were distributed throughout the local Providence school system and at local community events. In addition to online advertising, bus shelters ads, in both English and Spanish, spread the message.

From providing better access to electric vehicles and charging stations to creating a classroom toolkit promoting strategies to improve air quality to developing a real-time air monitoring notification system, award winners across the nation demonstrated a commitment to improving air quality in their communities.

Winners from other regions included:

Clean Air Technology

    • ReNew Air Scrubber Technology, Diversey Incorporated, Racine, WI.

Community Action

    • Frazier Courtyard Homes, Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity, Dallas, Texas
    • Electric Vehicle Ecosystem Pilot Project, City and County of Greenville, S.C.

Education Outreach

    • Conservation and Climate Change Challenge, Broward County, Fla.
    • InnerTribal Beat, Spokane Tribal Air Quality Program and KYRS Community Radio, Spokane, Wash.

Regulation/Policy Innovations

    • Rapid Response Notification System, Maricopa County Air Quality Department, Maricopa County, Ariz.
    • GHG Emissions Reduction Projects, Frito-Lay, Incorporated-Beloit, Beloit, Wis.

Transportation Efficiency Innovations

    • Leadership in Reducing Ocean-going vessel Emissions, Maersk Line/Maersk Agency USA, Charlotte, N.C.
    • Climate Initiatives Program, Metropolitan Transportation Commission of San Francisco Bay Area, San Francisco, Calif.

Gregg Cooke Visionary Program Award

    • SC Johnson Global Sustainability Program, SC Johnson, Racine, Wis.

The awards program, established in 2000 at the recommendation of the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee, annually recognizes entries that help reduce air pollution, provide a model for others to follow and offer innovative, sustainable outcomes.  Entries are judged by EPA and the Clean Air Act Advisory committee, and winners are recognized with a certificate at an awards ceremony in Washington D.C.


More on this year’s award winners:


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