The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) renewed its commitment to a host of environmentally-friendly initiatives today to mark the 50th annual Earth Day. The Authority has prioritized numerous projects in recent years that have allowed New York to maintain the distinction of being the state that produces the lowest carbon per capita.
Every year, the MTA effectively prevents 19 million metric tons of greenhouse gases while emitting only 2 million metric tons through its operations. This results in a net 17 million metric ton annual avoidance, and the MTA is pushing to reduce emissions even further.
“Earth Day serves as an important reminder of just how powerful a role the MTA plays in reducing congestion and making the New York City metropolitan region more livable,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick J. Foye. “Everyone within the MTA’s geographic footprint benefits from the critical service we provide because our operations allow everyone in the region to lead more carbon-efficient lives. In these times of crisis it can be secondary to think about our long term environmental future, but a sustainable region depends on a robust MTA.”
The MTA is working aggressively to implement Central Business District Tolling, pending Federal approval. It will be the first congestion pricing policy to be initiated in the United States and is designed to improve the environment by reducing automobile traffic and air pollution in a heavily congested area in Manhattan. The revenue would be used to help finance the MTA’s historic $51.5 billion Capital Program.
In November, the MTA committed to setting a science-based carbon emission target to help keep the global temperature well-below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels. Work is well underway on efforts to set an emissions target, with experts evaluating different pathways that can reduce the Authority’s direct, indirect, and supply chain greenhouse gas emissions to lower levels. That work is part of broader efforts to join with a United Nations-sponsored Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.
In December, the MTA rolled out 10 new electric articulated buses and additional electric buses are expected to hit streets in the coming months. MTA officials have long planned to have an all-electric fleet by 2040.
In addition to reducing its carbon footprint, the MTA has also continued largescale resiliency efforts in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy that hit seven years ago. Massive repairs and improvements to all but one of the tunnels damaged in the storm will be done shortly, with the Canarsie Tunnel on schedule for completion.
The MTA has made substantial progress to restore, repair and fortify its infrastructure in the event of extreme weather. Over the last seven years, the MTA has undertaken work to harden its infrastructure and protect facilities and fleets by installing flood mitigation equipment in subway stations and under-river tunnels, waterproofing facilities, raising critical power and communications equipment above flood levels, rebuilding facilities at higher ground, and installing various protections such as marine doors, flood logs, and flood curtains at 79 station entrances.
Below is a video of a testing at a stairway entrance “flex gate” at the Court Square subway station in Queens.
The MTA is continuing implementation of regenerative braking pilot in the New York City Subway that involves testing a Wayside Energy Management System that has the capability to store heat energy from braking and use it during peak consumption hours when the electricity from the grid is most expensive and demand on the Con Edison distribution system is at its highest. Regenerative braking energy is the energy generated by special equipment aboard a train which transforms the kinetic energy from the train braking into electric power. Installation is planned for the fourth quarter of 2020.
Other MTA environmentally conscious initiatives include:
- Making facilities, infrastructure, and rolling stock more energy efficient by replacing lighting, heating, and cooling systems with energy efficient models;
- As a founding member of The Climate Registry, MTA reports emissions as a way to work on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and educate the public the role mass transit plays in avoiding carbon emissions;
- MTA has 35 facilities enrolled in Con Edison’s Demand Response Programs which pays large customers to reduce their electric usage during peak times of demand, to improve performance and reliability of the electric grid;
- New buildings such as the new Bus Command Center are being built to meet LEED-certification standards.