As New York settles in to celebrate Earth Week, the buzzword of the week is, of course, “green,” and New York City’s transit options are taking center stage. We heard yesterday how the fact that New Yorkers drive much less than other Americans makes the citymore livable, environmentally friendly and economical and has lead to over $19 billion in auto-related savings. (The full report — called New York City’s Green Dividend — is available here as a PDF.) Today, the MTA gets in on the act.
According the MTA in conjunction with the Climate Registry and the American Public Transportation Authority, the city’s network of subways, buses and commuter rails helps New Yorkers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17.4 million metric tons. “We now know how much carbon MTA operations emit each day,” Ernest Tollerson, the authority’s director of policy and media relations, said. “But more importantly, we also know how much carbon is prevented from entering the atmosphere when 8.5 million people per day choose to ride the train or the bus instead of drive their cars.”
Based upon a report issued by the Climate Registry and methodology developed by the American Public Transportation Association, the MTA used a three-part test to evaluate the its carbon savings. The non-profit collaboration of states, provinces and territories takes into account, according to the MTA’s release “1) car trips avoided each time someone leaves his or her car at home and chooses to ride a train or bus; 2) congestion relief and therefore increased fuel efficiency of those cars that remain on the road; and 3) public transportation’s role in fostering compact land-use patterns that encourage walking and bicycling for some trips and shorter trips overall.”
Based upon these calculations, the MTA allows New Yorkers to avoid 8.24 units of carbon emissions for every unit the MTA emits via its operations. The numbers say New Yorkers avoid emitting 19.8 million metric tons of Carbon a year, and the MTA knows, via a study from the Climate Registry, it released 2.4 million metric tons of carbon annually for a net savings of 17.4 million metric tons.
“This is proof positive that New Yorkers are avoiding the release of a very large volume of greenhouse gas emissions by riding the region’s trains and buses,” APTA’s President William Millar said. “It demonstrates how important public transportation is in combating climate change and reducing carbon emissions. Clearly, it is one more important reason for everyone to support the expansion of public transportation services throughout the country.”
The MTA used these findings to argue for a share of carbon revenues in an emissions cap-and-trade system, — a goal of the authority since 2008 — and this report goes hand-in-hand with the city’s Green Dividend release. Without a vibrant and comprehensive public transit system, New York City would be a pollution-choked parking lot with congestion and unbreathable air (or, as I like to call it, Los Angeles). With the MTA, the city is greener, cheaper and less congested than nearly any other urban area in the country. If only Albany would recognize this reality.
Above: Emissions diagram courtesy of the MTA.