These hybrid-electric buses are designed to help the environment, two blocks at a time. (Photo Courtesy of NYSERDA.)
So it’s Earth Day weekend. After a year of increased awareness about the environmental changes confronting our globe, this weekend marks a time of year where the MTA highlights its latest and greatest efforts at cutting gas consumption and pollutant emissions.
Once upon time, Earth Day Weekend would be the only time of year when the MTA focused on its cutting-edge environmentally-friendly technology. But now, with Al Gore’s film and weird weather patterns all around us, more people are paying more attention to eco-friendly public transportation technology. Still, the MTA plans to pull out some stops this weekend during the EarthFair Outside festival.
According to the press release, MTA CEO Elliot “Lee” Sander will be on hand at Grand Central Terminal this afternoon at 12 noon to distribute free MetroCards and discuss the new buses — the hybrid-electric vehicle that roam the streets of New York.
Meanwhile, the MTA is hard at work (rightfully) promoting themselves as an environmentally friendly transportation alternative. They toss out some interesting numbers: Every full subway car keeps 75 to 125 cars off the road; full buses keep about 40 cars off the road. Public transportation cuts fuel consumption by a whopping 1.33 billion gallons yearly.
And here’s a kicker: Without the MTA’s services, 1.5 million more cars would enter Manhattan each day during rush hour, contributing to a whopping increase in pollution well above federal standards. Can you imagine that many more cars into the already crowded streets of the city? It would be a disaster of epic proportions.
Which brings me to today’s other news: According to reports, Mayor Bloomberg’s much heralded PLANYC2030, a plan to build a sustainable New York City within the next 23 years, will include a call for congestion pricing for cars south of 86th Street in Manhattan.
I love the idea of Congestion Taxes. The liberal environmentalist and pedestrian in me wants to see no cars other than essential vehicles in Manhattan. But I would settle for a tax where the money would go into providing better and more frequent subway service in a modernized system.
SUBWAYBlogger does an excellent job dissecting the pros and cons of Congestion Pricing as it would affect us straphangers. And Streetsblog, the home of pro-pedestrian, anti-car sentiment on the Internet, tackles the fight that will erupt over this plan and notes how groups are already resorting to falsehoods about Congestion Taxes to battle the Mayor’s soon-to-be-announced plan.