McCormick says NJTransit should deploy electric buses

Democrat Lisa McCormick is calling on New Jersey Transit to transition its entire fleet of buses to all-electric vehicles because it could save money in the long run, reduce ill health and significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions.

“If we reduce toxic air pollution that New Jersey Transit creates each year, we would see a reduction in public health hazards,” said McCormick. “Along with the critical need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as part of our fight to reverse the deadly consequences of climate change, this is a wise investment NJ Transit should pursue vigorously and without delay.”

Lisa McCormick said a transition to electric buses for NJ Transit could avoid climate-changing and local air pollution each day without losing reliability.

Noting that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has agreed to procure 18 Proterra Catalyst E2 vehicles for shuttle service at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) and LaGuardia Airport (LGA), McCormick identified a postential source NJ Transit could use to purchase similar buses.

“New Jersey’s share of the federal Volkswagen settlement should be sufficient to acquire about 100 zero-emission and low-emission electric transit buses, which can each save an average of $46,000 per year compared with the cost of operating diesel vehicles,” McCormick said.

“Nationwide, just 0.2 percent of the nation’s nearly 70,000 commuter buses run on all-electric engines and sadly, none of them are in NJ Transit’s fleet of 2,200 vehicles,” McCormick said. “Reducing the number of cars Americans operate makes sense for our environment, the livability of our cities and our bank accounts. Smart transportation policies can alter the way that people commute, shop and travel, but we must be serious about solving the challenges of air pollution and climate change.”

There are more than 15,000 electric vehicles on the road in New Jersey, far less than in other states in the Northeast, so McCormick is also calling for more publicly available charging stations.

“With 6 million licensed drivers and about 3 million registered cars New Jersey has only 15,000 electric vehicles,” McCormick said. “NJ Transit should be leading the drive toward electric vehicles, not demonstrating how far we have to go.”

“Diesel exhaust from buses poses a public health risk because they travel where there are lots of people, where inhaling diesel exhaust can cause respiratory diseases and worsen existing conditions such as asthma,” McCormick said. “New Jersey’s transportation discharges account for 42 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions and vehicle exhaust is the single largest source of ground-level ozone pollution, or smog.”

Numerous environmental advocates have expressed similar opinions about the need to convert NJ Transit’s fleet of buses to electric vehicles.

“Converting diesel powered fleets to electric will not only significantly reduce our carbon footprint and ‘heat island effect’ (city temperatures hotter than suburbs), but also the number of children gasping for air while experiencing an asthma attack, emergency visits and, more often than you think, premature death for those most vulnerable to pollution and its harms,” said Amy Goldsmith, New Jersey State Director for Clean Water Action.

“Clean air for our cities is a life-saver, as is reducing greenhouse gas emissions to fight climate change,” said Rev. Fletcher Harper, executive director of GreenFaith. “Clean-powered public transit is vital to accomplishing this. People of faith urge NJ Transit to do the right thing, and to make a commitment to electrify its entire bus fleet by 2035.”

“There are communities in New Jersey that are choking to death on exhausts from trucks and buses,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the NJ Sierra Club.  “One of the best ways New Jersey can take on this problem is by electrifying their bus fleet.”

“Exhausts from buses are one of the biggest problems of air pollution that cause serious health impacts, especially to children,” said Tittel. “NJ Transit is in the middle of buying fossil fuel buses, they must cancel those contracts and replace them with electric ones. The technology is there, and prices are coming down. They should target acquisition first in urban areas that have receive a disproportionate share of pollution, especially minority and low-income communities.”

“There’s no reason we should be running dirty, polluting buses in our communities when we have better, cleaner options,” said Doug O’Malley, of Environment New Jersey. “Our research shows that whether commuters are riding or boarding the bus, they’re exposed to toxic air in high concentrations, while simultaneously, diesel contributes to global warming. We have the technology to avoid this – it’s time for NJ Transit to get with numerous other transit agencies and start joining the electrification revolution for riders.”

“New Jersey Transit must invest in electric buses to improve our communities’ health and ensure not just a clean energy future, but any future at all,” said Norah Langweiler, campaign organizer for Jersey Renews.

“While other states and municipalities are taking action and making plans to electrify public buses, New Jersey is being left behind,” said Debra Coyle McFadden, director at the NJ Work Environment Council. “NJ Transit needs to put it in high gear and develop a plan to transition to electric buses. This is about more than climate change, this is about reducing air pollution and improving air quality and public health today in our inner cities.”

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