New York City took definitive steps this spring to freshen up its air. The city council passed and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg signed into law five initiatives dealing with stricter emissions standards and fuel economy. Plus, the New York City Transit decided to limit its new bus purchases to hybrid-electric vehicles.
"I don't think it's an accident that everyone's looking for ways to reduce emissions," says Councilman G. Oliver Koppel. "New York City is still not in compliance with the Clean Air Act. We're simply talking about cleaning the air here."
The legislation passed by the city council follows California's model of stricter emissions standards and requires a 20 percent fuel economy increase by 2015 for newly purchased city vehicles. When replacing old vehicles, the city must buy cars or vans with the lowest-emissions vehicle rating in their category.
Department of Sanitation garbage trucks will convert to compressed natural gas--but slowly. Since the department has experienced difficulties with that fuel in the past, it will operate just a few compressed natural gas sanitation vehicles under a pilot program.
Koppel hopes the new set of laws will set a precedent for future environmental acts, where strict emissions standards could be extended to privately owned vehicles throughout the city and state.
As to the transit agency, it plans to buy hybrid diesel-electric buses exclusively (instead of CNG) in order to save money while gradually replacing all diesel-fueled vehicles. It expects to have more than 325 hybrid buses in service by the end of 2005.