Dump the diesel buses for climate’s sake, transit experts tell MTA

People living in the city’s low-income neighborhoods are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change including extreme heat and rising sea levels because of aging infrastructure, and that includes diesel buses, the Regional Plan Association said in a report released on Wednesday.

The report, dubbed “Equitable Adaptation,” was produced in conjunction with nonprofit immigration group Make the Road New York and lays out 13 ways local officials could quickly shore up infrastructure. Critical among them is banning diesel buses in the city.

“We want to see the MTA take all the steps necessary to take a clean and healthy fleet,” said the RPA’s Rob Freudenberg. “At some level we’re going to have to pick up the pace and make the fleet healthier.”

“The idea is that climate change is affecting these communities in ways that are kind of unique. It makes conditions worse," Freudenberg said.

This year, the MTA brought in new buses and redistributed its existing fleet, resulting in a more equitable distribution of its oldest vehicles. Still, the majority of the agency’s depots, which have the heaviest concentration of bus traffic, are in low-income areas.

“They still have a large fleet of clean diesel buses, which are yes cleaner but not healthy for these communities,” said Freudenberg, who added that diesel exhaust from buses poses a major public health risk.

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