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Dear Colleague Letter: EMS

Number C-12-03

Dear Colleague:

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is pleased to offer the opportunity to eight to ten (8-10) public transportation agencies to receive training and technical assistance in implementing an Environmental Management System (EMS). In order to maximize the benefits of this training, FTA is limiting its invitation for requests to participate to the one hundred transit agencies with the largest ridership levels in the country.

An EMS is a set of operational procedures that allows an organization to set specific environmental goals for its operations and measure its performance in achieving those goals. An EMS integrates strong operational controls and environmental roles and responsibilities into existing job descriptions and work activities.

Organizations with an EMS report being able to manage their environmental obligations more effectively, to analyze, control and reduce environmental impacts, and to operate with greater efficiency and control. Other program benefits include cost savings over time, improved bond ratings, reduced insurance premiums, and better community relations. An EMS integrates the environmental ethic into business operations, and environmental stewardship becomes part of the daily organizational responsibility. FTA's offering of EMS training supports Executive Order 13274, Environmental Stewardship and Transportation Infrastructure Project Reviews (Enclosure), which directs Federal agencies "to promote environmental stewardship in the Nation's transportation system," while streamlining the environmental review and development of proposed transportation projects.

FTA will provide assistance in the form of training workshops, on-site technical support visits and electronic materials and consultation. Participant agencies will be responsible for their staffs' travel and accommodation costs. FTA will contract with the Center for Organizational and Technological Advancement at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), located in Roanoke, Virginia. The Environmental Protection Agency recognizes Virginia Tech as a Public Entity Environmental Management System Resource Center (PEER Center) specifically designed to aid local, county, and state entities that are considering implementing an EMS.

Training is designed to help agencies develop and implement a complete EMS, using the 14001 Standard of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The 14001 Standard is a toolbox of management techniques to minimize harm to the environment. The 14001 Standard will serve as the basis of the EMS training, although it will be at the discretion of the individual agency whether to pursue ISO certification. FTA will assemble a final report that includes the participating transit agencies' case studies and assesses training results.

The EMS training program will include:

  1. EMS training and assistance to eight to ten (8-10) transit agency teams consisting of three to four members each, over a two-year period;
  2. A curriculum designed specifically for transit agency implementation of an EMS;
  3. A pre-workshop site evaluation visit to each agency by the Virginia Tech team;
  4. A training "tool-kit" including guidebooks and software as necessary;
  5. Four, three-day workshops in Roanoke, Virginia, which would include all transit teams; Participants are responsible for travel and accommodation costs for these workshops;
  6. Two (2) site visits and progress reviews by Virginia Tech to each participant; and
  7. Monthly conference calls with Virginia Tech, FTA and all program participants.

FTA will use a number of criteria to select participants, including:

  • Organizational commitment by transit agency leadership to EMS implementation;
  • Geographical diversity;
  • Previous environmental experiences; and
  • Environmental challenges from operations and/or pending capital projects.

Transit organizations interested in applying for this program should submit a letter of application by November 15, 2003 to:

Federal Transit Administration
Office of Planning and Environment
400 7th Street, S.W.
Room 9413 (TPE-30)
Washington, DC 20590

This letter should be signed by the head of the public transportation organization and contain the following information:

  1. A brief description of the transit organization and its responsibilities.
  2. The name of a top management representative who will have the responsibility and the authority for ensuring that the EMS is developed based on the program provided above. This person should be available to travel and participate in workshops with other transit participants over the life of the project.
  3. A clear assurance that top management in the organization will provide the necessary visibility, staff time, and other resources necessary to successfully develop and implement the EMS through an EMS implementation team.

Ongoing top management support is the most critical factor for ensuring a successful and sustainable EMS.

Once all applications are received, FTA will conduct follow-up interviews with each applicant to discuss the information contained in the letter of application in more detail, and to obtain any other necessary information. FTA may consult with the Contractor before final decisions are made. These final decisions will occur by the middle of December 2003, after which the Contractor will work with each participant to schedule a site visit in late 2003 or early 2004. The first program workshop will be in March 2004.

At FTA, we are excited about partnering with transit agencies in this environmental stewardship opportunity. I hope that you will consider having your agency participate in this EMS program.

If you have any questions about the training program, please contact Jim Barr at the Office of Planning and Environment, (202) 493-2633,


Jennifer L. Dorn

Updated: Wednesday, March 16, 2016
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