In New York State, the transportation sector accounts for over 40% of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and 30% of New York City’s GHG emissions. Creating a cleaner, more effective transportation future in New York City and New York State is essential to addressing the increasing risks of climate change while also supporting better public health outcomes in frontline communities.
NYC-EJA advocates for a just and equitable transportation future through multiple campaigns that advance City and State policies to reduce emissions, increase access to sustainable transportation options, improve air quality and support better health, especially in low-income communities and communities of color that have been historically overburdened by inequitable transportation systems and infrastructure.
While issues of access, reliability and technological advancements are often placed at the forefront of transportation debates, our campaigns also elevate the importance of understanding how transportation and public health intersect. For example, in many low-income communities and communities of color the burden of inadequate and unreliable transportation options is compounded by the uneven distribution of transportation facilities like bus depots, and how the clustering of these and other public works facilities can lead to negative health outcomes like increased asthma rates.
Our advocacy efforts include; our demand for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to transition its entire fleet to zero-emissions, all-electric public buses; our fight for a comprehensive congestion pricing plan to reduce traffic, improve air quality and provide a dedicated funding stream to improve the public transportation system, and our support of neighborhood-based grassroots transportation campaigns to make transportation improvements that serve all New Yorkers equitably, rather than a privileged few.
NYC-EJA coordinates ElectrifyNY; a statewide coalition of transportation, environmental, labor and environmental justice advocates pressing the public and private transportation sectors to transition from fossil fuel-burning vehicles to zero-emissions, all-electric vehicles. Low-income communities and communities of color represent the majority of public bus riders at 66 percent, which makes them the most vulnerable to the health impacts of tail pipe pollution from the buses traversing their neighborhood streets or lay idle on street corners and in bus depots. An April 2018 NYC-EJA report found that 75% of MTA bus depots in NYC are located in communities of color.
Among ElectrifyNY’s priorities is the conversion of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) fleet to an all-electric fleet. As the nation’s largest public bus fleet, the MTA fleet is a standard bearer – its announcement in April 2018 that it will convert its entire fleet to all-electric buses was a major achievement. Research has shown that an all-electric bus transition would lead to a 97% reduction in fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) while also providing for increased health cost savings for everyday New Yorkers, as well as maintenance and fuel cost savings for the MTA. Currently the MTA operates an electric bus pilot of 10 buses, representing less than 1% of its entire fleet. NYC-EJA and ElectrifyNY will continue to push the MTA to expand the electric bus pilot while committing to a transparent transition timetable by 2040, increase investments in charging infrastructure and focus electric bus deployment in low-income communities and communities of color most effected by their emissions.
Fix the Subway
The Fix the Subway campaign is a grassroots campaign fighting to increase funding for much needed improvements to New York City’s subway system through the passage of congestion pricing. This advocacy effort is an offshoot of the MOVENY campaign (a long standing effort to pass congestion pricing) with a specific focus on grassroots mobilization of the low-income communities and communities or color that predominantly rely on public transportation. NYC-EJA’s members represent the 75% of low-income New Yorkers of color, who rely on MTA buses and the 66%, who rely on subway service to get around the City. As such, access, reliability and affordability of public transportation are paramount in our organization’s advocacy. NYC-EJA works to build a robust grassroots push to increase public support for congestion pricing.
NYC-EJA supports clean and resilient transportation providing equitable access to all New Yorker’s, but especially those that rely on public transportation. Since 2016, NYC-EJA has supported our member organization UPROSE in their advocacy efforts against the Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX); a proposed project to build a streetcar along the Brooklyn-Queens waterfronts – mostly within flood zones and storm surge zones. Initiated by real estate developers with property interests along the Brooklyn and Queens waterfronts, the BQX has been falsely promoted as accessible transportation that would support jobs and economic access. In 2018, UPROSE won a significant victory when the de Blasio Administration and the NYC Economic Development Corporation dropped the Sunset Park portion of the proposed BQX route.
NYC-EJA remains vehemently opposed to this project, which seeks to fund itself through “value capture” a speculative form of tax-increment financing predicated on future projected increases of property values in the surrounding area of the project – financing fueled by gentrification and displacement pressures that threaten the housing stability of low income and working class residents. NYC-EJA is coordinating regular convenings of community-based organizations along the corridor of the proposed BQX route to share information on the status of the project and to devise strategies fighting against its implementation.
We established ElectrifyNY; a State-wide coalition of allies in transit, environmental, labor and environmental justice advocacy to advance an electric vehicle transition in New York State, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, for a cleaner transpiration future.
In 2018 the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) gave its commitment to transition its entire public bus fleet to a zero-emissions, all electric fleet by 2040.
In 2019 Mayor Bill De Blasio finally declared his support for a comprehensive congestion pricing plan, joining Governor Andrew Cuomo, supportive members Senate and Assembly and communities demanding funding for public transportation improvements in New York City.
In 2018, our member organization Uprose was successful in their fight against the Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX) project. Their advocacy led to the removal of their neighborhood (Sunset Park) from the proposed streetcar route.