Statewide coalition and elected leaders introduce bill to curb transit bus tailpipe emissions
By BHN Newswire
New York, N.Y. — This week, advocates and elected leaders reintroduced a bill to mandate that public bus systems convert to zero-emission buses and incentivize the manufacture of electric buses in New York’s high-need communities. The “Green Transit, Green Jobs” bill (S.6089/A.6414) would maximize the benefits of government spending by ensuring that zero-emission bus purchases not only help reduce carbon emissions in New York State but also contribute to good green job creation. With the “Green Transit, Green Jobs” bill, New York State can use the power of public dollars to invest in a fair, climate-safe economy. The bill would require all transit agencies across the state to purchase only zero-emission buses starting in 2029. In addition, it would establish several protections for existing workers during this transition, such as requiring a comprehensive Workforce Development Report to identify the impact of the transition on the existing workforce, the necessary resources to retrain existing workers, and the development of a plan to train or retrain impacted workers. Several provisions would help ease the transition for smaller transit agencies to ensure that bus riders across the state benefit from the transition to a zero-emissions fleet, while the federal government is pouring in billions of dollars towards zero-emissions transit. In New York State, the transportation sector contributes to 28% of emissions, and there are approximately 8,500 transit buses. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority operates 5,800 buses, and at least 12 agencies across the state operate fleets of more than 25 buses. Electric buses account for only 0.2% of the 190 million miles traveled by New York’s transit buses every year. “In order to truly tackle our climate crisis, New York must take collective action and continue to make significant investments in our infrastructure. This legislation demonstrates a clear dedication to fostering sustainable, high-quality transportation networks, and a commitment to developing a greener, more environmentally-just New York,” said Senator Tim Kennedy, bill sponsor and chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. “In order for New York to achieve the climate goals of the CLCPA (Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act), we must take a multi-pronged approach. This includes putting us on track to ensure that New York’s public transportation systems seamlessly transition to a fleet of zero-emission buses. This legislation would move us away from a reliance on fossil fuels to power public buses while also incentivizing the creation of high-paying union jobs,” said bill sponsor Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz and chair of the Assembly Committee on Codes. “The best way to ramp up our fight against the climate crisis is to transition to new vehicles that are entirely free of carbon and other toxic emissions. As we see time and again, half-measures in dealing with climate change are of little benefit to us. We need to take decisive action right now, and Sen. Kennedy’s bill requiring public transportation systems to move to electric buses by 2029 shows New York can lead the way to positively impact our environment,” said Senator Pete Harckham, chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee. “Environmental Advocates NY fought for the electrification of the state fleet and school buses and we see zero-emission transit buses as a natural next step,” said Sophie Patka, Climate and Legislative Associate with Environmental Advocates NY. “Green Transit, Green Jobs is a simple and effective strategy to target one of our most polluting sectors and is a major step towards meeting our climate goals.” “As transit advocates, we know that decarbonizing the transportation sector and supporting public transportation go hand-in-hand,” said Jaqi Cohen, director of Climate and Equity Policy at Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “Green Transit, Green Jobs legislation represents a pivotal step towards a cleaner, more sustainable future by investing in green transit infrastructure and creating quality jobs that prioritize equity. This bill will not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also promote cleaner and environmentally-friendly transportation options for New Yorkers across our state.” “Green jobs need to be good jobs with solid protections and benefits that uplift working people,” said Brandon Mancilla, regional director of United Auto Workers Region 9A. “Public dollars should create good, family sustaining jobs, and the Green Transit, Green Jobs legislation can do just that. Road maps like the U.S. Jobs Plans will ensure that the future of green energy manufacturing is good for workers, our communities, and the climate!” said Carl Kennebrew, president of IUE-CWA. “Green Transit, Green Jobs is critical legislation that bolsters New York’s transition to a clean, just, and equitable transportation future,” said Jay Mehta, Northeast Director for Jobs to Move America. “This measure not only unites many labor and climate justice advocates, but allows for greater transparency and accountability in the purchasing of public goods like electric buses. It encourages a pathway to good, family sustaining jobs and training and workforce development opportunities for historically marginalized and underrepresented workers and their communities.” “The buses passing through our communities that many of us rely on for transportation should not be harming us with daily pollution and contributing to the climate crisis. The ‘Green Transit, Green Jobs’ bill will make our public transit cleaner as we build our future in a way that ensures workers are put first in this important transition. This is a policy that will provide green jobs for New Yorkers and result in cleaner air and healthier communities,” said Jessica Enzmann, Sierra Club Clean Transportation for All Senior Organizing Representative. “There is simply no way to meet New York’s climate mandates without rapidly electrifying the transportation sector,” said Alok Disa, Senior Research and Policy Analyst at Earthjustice. “The Green Transit Green Jobs legislation will electrify the transit bus fleets relied on by millions of New Yorkers, slashing both climate-altering emissions and air pollution to help communities near bus depots and throughout the state breathe easier. And it will do it all while supporting good, family-sustaining jobs.” “Electrifying the state’s transit buses is a crucial step in reducing the escalating risks of climate change and ensuring cleaner air in New York.” said Kevin X. Shen, policy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “This transition must go hand in hand with good jobs and protections for the workers who are the backbone of the transportation system. By passing Green Transit, Green Jobs legislation, the legislature would promote a clean, equitable, and mobile transportation future for all.” “The transportation sector is the biggest source of emissions in New York State. To meet the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act targets, we need to tackle tailpipe emissions and electrify our transit agency bus fleets,” said Kevin Garcia, Transportation Planner for New York City Environmental Justice Alliance. “Our communities rely on public transit and are most impacted by bus tailpipe emissions due to the siting of depots and the routes buses travel. The State must move forward with zero-emission buses and protect our communities.” “In our frontline communities we are experiencing high rates of emergency room visits for asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and other respiratory illnesses, Green Transit Green Jobs offers relief to our communities, hospitals, riders and workers. This is the kind of policy that is responsive to the need.” Monique Fitzgerald, Climate Justice Organizer with the Long Island Progressive Coalition.
ElectrifyNY is a statewide coalition of advocates for environmental justice, public transportation, social justice, and good jobs fighting for a clean, equitable electric transportation future for New York. Our work aims to improve the environment and public health outcomes for the communities most affected by the negative impacts of the transportation sector’s dependency on fossil fuels.