Would electric buses soften the blow of the approaching L train shutdown? City Council members Rafael Espinal and Stephen Levin think so, and yesterday they called on the MTA to make it happen.
Aside from being an inconvenience for more than 200,000 daily commuters who ride the L train daily, the 15-month shutdown planned for 2019 will also cause an increase in carbon emissions as the subway is replaced with more car and bus traffic. Electric buses would solve the problem of noxious bus fumes while pushing the city closer to a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly public transit system, the council members said during a press conference.
On a dreary Tuesday morning, outside of the Bedford L-train stop yesterday, Espinal reaffirmed the city’s desire to work towards reducing climate change despite rhetoric from the country’s new administration in Washington, saying, “While the road to President Trump’s White House may be paved with coal, we want the road to Brooklyn to be green.”
The two council members are working with the Sierra Club NY, a partnership initiated by Brooklynite and filmmaker Darren Aronofsky, an executive member of the national board of directors at Sierra Club. The Sierra Club’s Electric Vehicle Initiative is an effort to “make EVs more appealing, convenient, and affordable” by demonstrating “strong public support for cleaner transit choices.” Kat Fisher, a representative for Sierra Club NY, said that she and the council members had been going door-to-door, and the possibility of electric buses had received largely positive public response.
Back in January, Governor Cuomo promised to install 500 electric-vehicle charging stations around the state, which was lauded by Sierra Club. Monday the MTA released a report promising a two-year, $4 million pilot program of five electric buses with seven charging stations to be installed throughout the city. The buses– which will be equipped with Wi-Fi and USB charging ports– will be completed this December and operate out of the Grand Avenue bus depot in Queens. There will be an en-route charging station at Williamsburg Bridge Plaza, in Williamsburg.
Clearly New York is working its way towards a lower emission system but the progress is too slow to reach the Sierra Club’s EV Initiative goal of seeing a 50 percent reduction in US oil use by 2050. Fisher says she is hoping to see 200 electric buses come to NYC in time to replace the L train in 2019.
On Tuesday, Espinal and Levin gave the Committee on Transportation a resolution “calling upon the Governor and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to commit to an expeditious transition to an electric bus fleet and to use electric buses as a robust part of its replacement service during the upcoming L train shutdown.” The chair of the committee will soon announce a date for a hearing.