This announcement comes as the MTA finalized a $39 million agreement with the New York Power Authority to install more than 50 overhead chargers to power new electric buses that will be coming next year to four MTA bus depots. Construction is expected to begin this fall at the Charleston, East New York, Grand Avenue and Kingsbridge depots. A charger replacement at the Williamsburg Bridge Plaza, considered an “on-route” charger because buses will draw charges while they are briefly parked between runs are a part of these efforts. The on-route chargers will provide enough charge during the drivers’ rest periods to keep the bus operating for two full shifts per day. The total project is expected to take about a year to complete.
In NYC, approximately 75% of MTA bus depots are located in low/moderate-income communities, and transit bus routes run disproportionately through these neighborhoods. Conversion to a zero-emissions fleet will help to significantly improve air quality and public health by reducing health outcomes like asthma. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) announced a new $73 billion plan back on May 4th, aimed at replacing the country’s mass transit buses with clean vehicles. The proposal seeks to replace the country’s 70,000 buses and 85,000 cutaway vehicles and transit vans, prioritizing funding for areas with the worst air quality first. The funds going elsewhere include $60 million toward a workforce training program and $500 million that would go to transit agencies to lessen the burden of retraining workers. A summary said the plan, called Clean Transit for America, will authorize the money for the procurement and deployment of zero-emission buses and infrastructure, including charging stations related to it.
Schumer said in a statement: “To reduce the carbon in our atmosphere and address the climate crisis, we must transform our transit system. The Clean Transit for America proposal will replace dirty, diesel-spewing buses, create new American jobs, help save the planet and protect public health, particularly in our country’s most vulnerable communities."
The MTA removes 17 million metric tons of carbon emissions from the air per year by providing public transit services as an alternative to personal vehicle use, and a zero-emissions bus fleet would further reduce New Yorkers’ carbon footprint. Zero-emissions propulsion technology also results in quieter operations in addition to the benefits of zero tail-pipe emissions, which make it ideal for operating vehicles in densely populated areas such as New York City. All-electric buses use an electric motor powered by a battery pack, and their propulsion systems recapture energy normally wasted in braking. Articulated buses, which are higher-capacity 60-foot-long buses used on Select Bus Service as well as on higher ridership routes, are ideal for electrification when used in densely populated urban areas where carbon emissions and traffic noise are public concerns.