Early Sunday morning final week I stood on a windy rooftop within the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan subsequent to a strikingly fashionable, blue electric bus. It’s the most important one I’ve ever seen. It is a 60-foot-long articulated bus that bends within the center and is totally outfitted with state-of-the-art technology and equipment — from USB chargers to warmth.

As a climate-solutions advocate, I haven’t been feeling nice concerning the holidays. The information out of Washington, DC isn’t precisely uplifting. The United Nations’ climate talks in Madrid weren’t straightforward both and it took an excessive amount of effort for world leaders to come back by with an settlement. Not precisely my thought of holiday cheer.

So, I hauled myself away from bed to affix Andy Byford, the president of New York City Transit Authority; engineers from the Metropolitan Transit Authority operations crew and a couple of colleagues from the New York environmental group. We all stood on the rooftop overlooking 41st Street to launch town’s first electric bus into full, common service — the start of the MTA’s initiative to transition to a zero-emissions bus fleet by 2040.

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The plan is to roll out 500 of those buses over the following 5 years and distribute them throughout all 5 boroughs. With greater than 5,000 buses shifting about two million riders a day, the MTA’s is the largest bus fleet in the United States. At that scale, we may also help drive down prices and encourage different cities to undertake electric buses.

We demonstrated for the press easy methods to cost the bus, and answered questions. With the present bus fleet in New York City burning tens of millions of gallons of diesel a yr, electric buses are a game-changer for communities and the atmosphere. With the acquisition of 375 commonplace buses and 100 articulated buses with all-electric propulsion, the MTA is anticipated to reduce over 37,000 tons of carbon emissions. While electric buses value extra upfront, they ship huge returns for cleaner air, quieter neighborhoods and decrease working prices. Imagine a metropolis with out all that truck and bus noise and air pollution.

After a trip downtown, our bus begins the M14 crosstown route and picks up a passenger, who was in awe on the comfy seats, the digital data system, the serene quiet and the truth that the bus is working in a particular lane that cuts by visitors. Geeks like me care concerning the battery, the charging infrastructure and what it means for climate. The passenger may care about that too, however for now what he actually cares about is getting residence along with his buying rapidly, affordably and comfortably. And that’s correctly: fixing climate by making folks’s lives higher.

At EDF, we work to cut back oil and gasoline emissions by chopping air pollution on the business facet and by lowering the demand for fossil fuels. Our objective is for the U. S., China and Europe to finish a near-total transition to electric vehicles and buses by 2050. If powered by net-zero emission electrical energy, this could symbolize an roughly 40% lower in international emissions from this sector. To put us on that pathway, we goal to make sure that 30% of recent vehicles and buses offered within the United States, Europe and China are electric by 2030.

In March of this yr, Gov. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature permitted congestion pricing, which may assist finance town’s transition to an all-electric bus system. When it begins in 2021, congestion pricing will elevate about $1 billion per yr to spend money on transit, minimize visitors by as much as 20% and enhance air high quality — particularly in susceptible communities with excessive bronchial asthma charges the place bus depots are usually positioned.

The 14th Street busway that lately closed to all visitors besides buses, bikes, pedestrians and deliveries reveals what a metropolis will be like with much less visitors. While controversial when proposed, the MTA launched information that reveals bus ridership going up, visitors taking place (even on close by facet streets) and commutes getting sooner. Quality of life is best with much less diesel exhaust and air pollution.

I used to keep away from 14th road as a result of it was choked with visitors and unsightly. Today, it looks like a little bit of a miracle, a glimpse into the way forward for a metropolis the place folks and the planet can thrive collectively.

On the way in which out, a bus passenger turned to Andy Byford, and mentioned: “Thanks. This electric bus — what a great holiday present for New York City!”

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