Government and community leaders met on Earth Day at the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority’s Cold Springs garage to mark the arrival of the first electric bus in the fleet. The NFTA currently has 330 buses and is committed to having an all-electric bus fleet by the year 2035.
It helps that the Transportation Chair in the New York State Senate is Senator Timothy Kennedy. His efforts to obtain funding from the state was key. He was at the event to remind us the “not only are we investing into the future and generations, but transforming the industry on the ground level. So that these old diesel buses, that are in the streets, that are polluting our communities, are taken off the streets and are replaced with clean, green electric vehicles, and are removed from the fossil fuel footprint entirely.” Buffalo’s Deputy Mayor Ellen Grant chimed in that the buses will be quieter and the zero emissions buses fit in with the City’s certification as a Climate Smart Community and its efforts to be a Climate Refuge Community.
NFTA’s Executive Director Kimberley Minkel recognized the advocacy of the Sierra Club and brought out a scroll which had a petition to the NFTA to purchase electric buses.
As the press conference continued, I was surprised when NFTA’s Executive Director Kimberley Minkel recognized the advocacy of the Sierra Club and brought out a scroll which had a petition to the NFTA to purchase electric buses. The petition drive was done in 2017 and it had over 2000 signatures. Proof positive that advocacy works!
After the dignitaries concluded their speeches, Metro Bus No. 2251 rolled out of the garage barely making a sound. Although the electric bus has a higher price tag than a comparable diesel bus, the price difference will be more than made up in lower fuel and maintenance costs over its lifespan. For the passengers, there are multiple benefits including the elimination of combustion fumes compared to the diesel, natural gas or hybrid buses.
These buses will help eliminate up to 85 to 175 tons of greenhouse gases each year.
As Executive Director Minkel explained, these buses will help eliminate up to 85 to 175 tons of greenhouse gases each year. The transportation sector is the third largest source of air pollution in the state, and is a key contributor to respiratory related issues like asthma. As the NFTA was making their announcement, Governor Kathy Hochul was in New York City for their unveiling of 60 new electric bused for the Municipal Transit Authority. As she noted “public transportation has always been critical to reducing emissions” and the MTA is also on a path to a zero-emissions fleet.
Expect more news in the near future as New York State decarbonizes its transportation sector. One of Hochul’s first acts as Governor was to sign a bill requiring all new passenger cars and light duty trucks to be zero-emission by 2035 and all medium and heavy-duty vehicles by 2050. State and local governments will have a huge role to play in their procurement of replacement vehicles. In Buffalo, Council President Darius Pridgen sponsored a resolution that would review how the city would transition its fleet of vehicles to zero emissions vehicles. Deputy Commissioner Grant said that Mayor Byron Brown will have say on the city’s steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in his upcoming State of the City address.
Lead image: Metro Bus No. 2251 – the first electric bus in the NFTA fleet | Photo by Sierra Club member Roger Cook