For Immediate Release: June 13, 2018
Contact: Norah Langweiler, NJ Work Environment Council, 908-303-4546 ext. 302
Labor, Environment, & Faith Leaders Demand Electrification of NJ Transit Fleet
Newark, NJ –On Wednesday, June 13 the Jersey Renews coalition, represented by a crew of delegates from the broad and varied base of supporters, testified at the NJ Transit board meeting. They advocated for electrification of the public fleet of buses and cleaner ports, citing public health, environmental, and economic benefits as key reasons to make the switch.
“Nearly 50% of greenhouse gas emissions in New Jersey come from the transportation sector. It is critical that we secure a much bigger investment in electric vehicles from NJ Transit. New York City’s MTA, the largest bus fleet in the country, just announced that they will electrify their fleet by 2040 and Los Angeles will do the same by 2030,” said Norah Langweiler, campaign organizer for Jersey Renews. “This is the time for NJ Transit to follow their example and make New Jersey a leader on clean transportation.”
“Our drivers spend hours every day driving buses throughout New Jersey and we recognize that converting to electric buses can improve the air quality for them to breathe while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Ray Greaves, ATU NJ State Council Chairman and State Business Agent.
“The movement to electrify our transportation fleet in New Jersey needs to include NJ Transit buses. Electric transit buses are a reality in the largest cities in America and we need NJ Transit to commit to move forward to electrify its bus fleet. Electric buses will reduce air pollution, especially in our cities, and be a boon for both transit riders and the communities they travel through. Electric buses can provide long-term cost savings while eliminating dirty diesel air pollution in communities that already suffer from toxic air pollution,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey.
“The clean energy funds, proposed by the Administration to be diverted to NJ Transit, can be smartly deployed to help jump start the transition to electrification,” says Pam Frank, CEO of ChargEVC. She continues, “This transition requires fresh thinking – buses, yes, but let’s also think about alternatives that can affordably, safely, and reliably move people around our State. In addition we will need to consider financing approaches that accelerate this transition – and bring New Jersey the benefits that come along for the ride as quickly as possible.
“Emissions from cars and buses damage paint and contribute to the release of lead-bearing particles into homes, where they can be ingested by children,” said John Hart, chief operation officer at Isles, Inc. “In other words, these emissions harm lungs and, by means of lead, developing brains. By investing in electric buses, NJ Transit will be investing in the health of our communities for generations to come.”
“Low income and communities of color, like Newark, are disproportionately dependent on public transit-buses and rail for transportation. They are also disproportionally impacted by the corresponding cumulative impact of diesel and other forms of air pollution. These ground level fumes are vacuumed up into our lungs causing lifelong health harms (asthma, heart attacks, cancer, strokes and premature death) to transit riders, workers and community,” stated Amy Goldsmith, New Jersey state director, Clean Water Action.“NJ Transit needs to invest needs an investment strategy that puts electric vehicle buses, trains and ride shares where they are most needed and create the greatest good-in New Jersey cities and along the most used routes.”
“As a coalition of New Jersey businesses dedicated to creating a more vibrant, sustainable and equitable economy, NJSBC supports the addition of electric buses to NJ Transit’s public fleet. Doing so will help build market demand for, and investment in clean transportation technology and jobs, and will benefit those communities and local economies that have been disproportionately harmed by carbon pollution,” said Richard Lawton, executive director of New Jersey Sustainable Business Council.
“Our communities need safe, reliable, affordable, clean transportation,” said Rev Tuff, Newark organizer for GreenFaith. “NJ Transit has an opportunity to do the right thing by making bold investments in electrifying their fleets. With too many of our urban centers suffering the impacts of air pollution, these investments are an urgent priority.”
“Gasoline powered vehicles are harmful to our environment and our health, especially in dense urban areas like Northern and Central Jersey. Dangerous levels of pollution from cars, trucks, and buses on busy roads and highways make thousands of New Jerseyans sick and cost us millions of dollars in avoidable healthcare expenses. The electrification of our public transportation system, starting with buses, is a big step toward a cleaner environment while promoting good-paying green jobs for working families,” said Analilia Mejia, director of New Jersey Working Families Alliance.
“In New Jersey, buses carry 72% more passengers than rail,” said Janna Chernetz, deputy director for Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “NJ Transit’s aging fleet of buses are in need of replacement, and we’re now at a point where electric buses are cost-competitive with diesel buses over their lifetimes–and that’s not even counting the savings to communities that no longer have to deal with diesel buses in their neighborhoods. It’s time for NJ Transit to double down on meeting our climate goals: commuting by mass transit is always more environmentally sound than commuting by car, but electric buses are the final piece of the puzzle for a zero-emissions commute.”
The coalition of organizations said the raid of more than $80 million from the Clean Energy Fund for NJ Transit should be considered as a potential investment in starting to make the transition to electric buses, and the importance of funding investments in NJ Transit overall. The organizations touted the announcement last fall by NJ Transit and Proterra, an electric bus manufacturer, to bring electric buses to Camden after the successful award of a Federal Transit Agency grant.
The coalition members gave support to the NJ Transit proposals for electric buses that were part of the applications for the Volkswagen penalty settlement to New Jersey to increase electric vehicles and reduce air pollution but argued that more investments needed to be made.
There are clear environmental and economic benefits to the transition to electric. The maintenance costs are cheaper than traditional diesel vehicles. In fact, electric buses can save half a million dollars over their life-spans. Buses, particularly older ones, drive at low speeds in highly populated areas all day, pushing diesel emissions and particulate matter directly into our communities. Transitioning our public fleet of buses and cars will improve the air quality of urban areas where these vehicles are most put to use.
New Jersey residents, particularly those in urban areas like Newark and Camden, are subject to high concentrations of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, resulting in higher rates of asthma and other respiratory illnesses. In New Jersey, one in 11 people have asthma and the rate is even higher in cities.So we must recognize that we have a problem, from both a climate perspective, and with regard to public health.
Every traveled mile converted to electric is significantly cleaner than a gas-powered mile. Converting buses to electric can help to meet emissions reduction goals and improve air quality, achieving multiple goals at once. New Jersey Transit must invest in electric buses to improve our communities’ health and ensure a clean energy future
Jersey Renews is a broad-based coalition of over 60 labor, faith, community, environmental and business organizations pushing to make New Jersey a leader in climate policy. www.jerseyrenews.org