Here’s How Taking the Train Can Protect Your Well-being and the Health of the Environment
Metrolink is a mega-sized railway system serving a mega-sized region—in fact, it’s the third largest commuter rail in the nation. Our system includes seven rail lines covering 62 stations, along a 538 route miles throughout six counties in Southern California.
We recognize that climate change is one of the most important issues impacting our world today, and we realize that as a force of positive influence in our local SoCal community, we have a responsibility to make improvements to our operating practices for the benefit of our riders and the environment.
Here’s Why Taking the Train is Better than Any Carpool Lane
Passenger trains play a crucial role in helping to tackle carbon emissions simply by reducing the number of cars on the road. Our recent 2021 ridership survey revealed more than 85% of our riders have access to a car, but are choosing to ride Metrolink.
This means they’re collectively removing the equivalent of one lane of parallel freeway traffic, or 9.3 million weekday automobile trips.
Here are a few additional standout measures we’re taking toward creating a zero emissions future:
- Putting our trains on a plant-based diet. We’re piloting a 100% fossil-free fuel on a Tier 2 locomotive derived from renewable raw materials like waste from vegetable oils and animal fats.
- Reducing our idling time and improving the efficiencies of our locomotive’s operations
- Working with the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority on the Redlands Passenger Rail Project, an advanced regional transportation project using three highly fuel-efficient Tier 4 Diesel Multiple Units. SBCTA will also introduce a hydrogen fuel cell rail vehicle, which will be the first hydrogen-powered passenger train to run in the United States.
- Installing zero emission vehicle charging stations and/or fueling infrastructure at our facilities
- Certifying our facilities with USGBC Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating designations, a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement.
- Improving our e-waste recycling, among many other conservation efforts
- And more.
Taking the Train Benefits Your Physical and Mental Health
In addition to being beneficial for the environment, Metrolink is better for your overall health. People who commonly use sustainable modes of transportation such as the Metrolink train experience both mental and physical health benefits — which positively impacts the prosperity of our entire region.
Research from the American Heart Association (a Metrolink Cares partner) found that people who take public transit are 44 percent less likely to be overweight, 27 percent less likely to have high blood pressure, and 34 percent less likely to have diabetes, when compared to people who drive.
- Reduced congestion boosts productivity. Traffic congestion has widespread impacts on urban quality of life, consumption of fossil fuels, air pollution and lost time and productivity.
- In fact, in our recent rider survey, 16 percent of respondents said they’re choosing railway travel because taking the train allows for other activities en route – such as reading, getting work done, or winding down after a day at work.
- An increase in walking and cycling leads to increased retail traffic, as people step into nearby stores to explore. For this reason, more walkable areas can boost local employment, economic growth and prosperity.
- Active travel leads to less depression, anxiety, stress, obesity and chronic disease. This is because shifting people out of cars and into an active form of travel — particularly walking, cycling and public transport typically leads to more physical activity and can significantly lower these risks.
- Walking to the train station and taking the train is much more relaxing than sitting in traffic. According to our rider survey, 27 percent of riders choose Metrolink over other travel options as it’s more relaxing and less stressful.
A Future Without Fossil Fuels
We first introduced our new Tier 4 clean locomotives back in 2017. Since then, this fleet has annually reduced our emissions by up to 85 percent. While our primary goal is to become a zero emissions rail system, there are several measurable areas we’re using to improve our performance and rider experience.
We’ve identified renewable diesel derived from raw, renewable materials as a potential solution to permanently transition away from fossil-based fuels. Since this source of energy is biogenic, it means that it originates from a plant source ultimately absorbed as atmospheric carbon — no new carbon is produced in the burning of renewable diesel.
We’re also planning a six-month pilot test demonstration of renewable diesel fuel, starting this spring. If this is successful, it could additionally reduce carbon dioxide emissions and other harmful gasses. See a video of Metrolink CEO Stephanie Wiggins talking about the pilot here.
A Pledge to Our Riders and Our Community
Metrolink is committed to protecting the environment and contributing toward a better and smarter Southern California. We’ve been working to create a better climate both economically and physically over the past few years.
Our ongoing and comprehensive “Climate Action Plan” aims at improving quality of life across Southern California by creating cleaner air and increasing the possibilities for us to use our energy more efficiently. Our mission to continue to be better for both our riders and for the world will continue to hold true as our action plan moves forward.