Mobilizing the Region
Issue 60January 5, 1996

"Dump Diesel" Support Grows Again

In December letters to MTA Chair E. Virgil Conway, NYC Transit President Alan F. Kiepper and the members of the MTA Capital Program Review Board, Manhattan Borough President Ruth W. Messinger called on the MTA Capital Program Review Board to reject the proposed 1995-1999 MTA Capital Program. While referring to concerns she had expressed earlier about the capital plan's overall ability to meet the needs of New York City and its transit riders, Messinger's letters focused on the plan's failure to "present a sustained strategy towards reducing and ultimately eliminating New York City Transit's use of diesel-fueled buses." Messenger explained that New Yorkers still suffer from high levels of inhalable particulate matter from diesel vehicles, and that NYC Transit "is in a position to make a sizeable contribution" to reducing particulate-related disease and deaths. Fleets around the nation, including the MTA's Long Island Bus fleet, are switching their diesel bus purchases to buses powered by cleaner alternative fuels like compressed natural gas (CNG).

Messinger called for two immediate strategies to reduce the health threat from NYC Transit's diesel buses, including (i) buying at least 100 CNG buses and (ii) converting at least one existing diesel bus depot to a cleaner fuel like CNG in 1996. A similar demand was made in a recent letter signed by 41 NYS Assembly members from New York City districts to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, a member of the MTA Capital Program Review Board (see MTR #57).

NRDC and Tri-State "Dump Dirty Diesels" coordinator Rich Kassel explained that, added to the 41 New York City Assembly members' letter last month, "the Borough President's letter sends a strong signal to the MTA that many of New York City's elected officials are taking health threats from diesel fumes seriously, and that they are fed up with NYC Transit's continued reliance on dirty diesels." Kassel continued, "It's time for the MTA to take a leadership role in the national movement to cleaner bus technologies like CNG. It makes no sense for the MTA to buy hundreds of diesel buses that foul NYC's air every year, especially while it is buying CNG buses for its Long Island fleet."

Campaign members have been negotiating with the Transit Authority and NYC's utility companies since October on a plan to switch next year's capital spending for buses to CNG, and hope to present their plan to Senator Norman Levy by the end of January.

Technical, advocacy and other information on the Dump Diesel Campaign is available via NRDC's world wide web page:

NRDC Dump Diesel Bus Ad

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