Transportation Justice

In New York State, the transportation sector accounts for over 40% of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and 30% of New York City’s GHG emissions. Creating a cleaner, more effective transportation future in New York City and New York State is essential to addressing the increasing risks of climate change while also supporting better public health outcomes in frontline communities.

NYC-EJA advocates for a just and equitable transportation future through multiple campaigns that advance City and State policies to reduce emissions, increase access to sustainable transportation options, improve air quality and support better health, especially in low-income communities and communities of color that have been historically overburdened by inequitable transportation systems and infrastructure.

While issues of access, reliability and technological advancements are often placed at the forefront of transportation debates, our campaigns also elevate the importance of understanding how transportation and public health intersect. For example, in many low-income communities and communities of color the burden of inadequate and unreliable transportation options is compounded by the uneven distribution of transportation facilities like bus depots, and how the clustering of these and other public works facilities can lead to negative health outcomes like increased asthma rates.

Our advocacy efforts include; our demand for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to transition its entire fleet to zero-emissions, all-electric public buses; our fight for a comprehensive congestion pricing plan to reduce traffic, improve air quality and provide a dedicated funding stream to improve the public transportation system, and our support of neighborhood-based grassroots transportation campaigns to make transportation improvements that serve all New Yorkers equitably, rather than a privileged few.

NYC-EJA coordinates ElectrifyNY; a statewide coalition of transportation, environmental, labor and environmental justice advocates pressing the public and private transportation sectors to transition from fossil fuel-burning vehicles to zero-emissions, all-electric vehicles. Low-income communities and communities of color represent the majority of public bus riders at 66 percent, which makes them the most vulnerable to the health impacts of tail pipe pollution from the buses traversing their neighborhood streets or lay idle on street corners and in bus depots.  An April 2018 NYC-EJA report found that 75% of MTA bus depots in NYC are located in communities of color.

Since launching in 2018, ElectrifyNY has secured the MTA’s commitment to convert its entire public transit bus fleet to all-electric buses zero-emissions buses by 2040. Research has shown that an all-electric bus transition would lead to a 97% reduction in fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) while also providing for increased health cost savings for everyday New Yorkers, as well as maintenance and fuel cost savings for the MTA. ElectrifyNY also launched a digital Municipal Fleet Toolkit to provide resources and information to municipal fleet managers across New York in order to develop and implement their own electric vehicle transition plans. ElectrifyNY has also advocated for key legislation through the Transit/Green Jobs package of bills (A9046/S7349 and A10559/S8548), to mandate all transit agencies transition their vehicle fleets to all-electric by requiring them to purchase only zero-emissions vehicles starting no later than they year 2029. For more information, visit the ElectrifyNY webpage.

NYC-EJA worked as a coordinating member of the Fix the Subway campaign, a grassroots campaign fighting to increase funding for much needed improvements to New York City’s subway system through the passage of congestion pricing. In collaboration with transit and environmental advocates, our campaign succeeded in passing the nation’s first Congestion Pricing plan in 2019, projected to generate nearly $2 billion in annual revenue to be invested into NYC’s public transit system. The Congestion Pricing plan was scheduled to begin implementation in January 2021. However, due to lack of federal approval of an environmental assessment process, the plan is currently delayed. NYC-EJA continues to advocate for the approvals needed to implement congestion pricing and an additional $12 billion in federal funding to support mass transit as a means of economic recovery due to the fiscal impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

NYC-EJA’s Community Air Mapping Project for Environmental Justice (CAMP-EJ) is a grassroots air quality monitoring campaign led by low-income communities of color in New York City. Since 2018, CAMP-EJ has empowered six community-based organizations in the South Bronx and Brooklyn to measure, map, and understand their exposures to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) air pollution. Utilizing low-cost air quality monitors, communities collect and visualize hyperlocal air quality data in real-time and leverage this data to improve air quality, public health, and community development. Check out the CAMP-EJ report here.

ince 2016, NYC-EJA has supported our member organization UPROSE in their advocacy efforts against the Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX); a proposed project to build a streetcar along the Brooklyn-Queens waterfronts – mostly within flood zones and storm surge zones. Initiated by real estate developers with property interests along the Brooklyn and Queens waterfronts, the BQX has been falsely promoted as accessible transportation that would support jobs and economic access. In 2018, UPROSE won a significant victory when the de Blasio Administration and the NYC Economic Development Corporation dropped the Sunset Park portion of the proposed BQX route.

In 2019, NYC-EJA continued the fight, coordinating the NO-BQX! Coalition, which engaged EDC and DOT directly through their community engagement process. NYC-EJA held rallies at key BQX events and provided information to the public which galvanized growing public opposition to the streetcar proposal. The City has been forced to shelve the ill-fated BQX project due to ongoing public disapproval and a need to focus on sustaining our public transit system, due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. NYC-EJA will remain vigilant to ensure that the City does not re-engage the speculative “value capture” approach to financing transit options, which would fuel gentrification and displacement in low-income and working class neighborhoods.

Since 2017, NYC-EJA and members of the Climate Justice Alliance have sounded the alarm on the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), a false solution to reducing carbon emissions in the transportation sector. TCI is designed based on a Cap,Trade and Invest model, adopted for mobile sources of pollution. It proposes yet another carbon trading market, which allows fuel suppliers to purchase carbon emissions allowances in order to generate revenue to be invested into potential “clean transportation” options. However there are many environmental justice concerns including the perpetuation of the status quo for polluters as long as they pay into the fund, potential emission increases in EJ communities (as has happened in California), a lack of commitment to specific investment percentages in environmental justice communities, the tendency for state governors to “raid” clean energy funds, just to name a few. Learn more about the TCI Lie here.

Donate Now

Accomplishments

  • ElectrifyNY launched a digital Municipal Fleet Toolkit to provide resources and information to municipal fleet managers across New York in order to develop and implement their own electric vehicle transition plans.

  • ElectrifyNY introduced key legislation through the Transit/Green Jobs package of bills (A9046/S7349 and A10559/S8548), to mandate all transit agencies transition their vehicle fleets to all-electric by requiring them to purchase only zero-emissions vehicles starting no later than the year 2029.

  • In collaboration with transit and environmental justice advocates, our efforts through the Fix The Subway Campaign led to the passage of  the nation’s first Congestion Pricing plan, projected to generate nearly $2 billion in annual revenue to be invested into NYC’s public transit system.

  • We established ElectrifyNY; a State-wide coalition of allies in transit, environmental, labor and environmental justice advocacy to advance an electric vehicle transition in New York State, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, for a cleaner transpiration future.

  • In 2019 Mayor Bill De Blasio finally declared his support for a comprehensive congestion pricing plan, joining Governor Andrew Cuomo, supportive members Senate and Assembly and communities demanding funding for public transportation improvements in New York City.

  • In 2018, our member organization Uprose was successful in their fight against the Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX) project. Their advocacy led to the removal of their neighborhood (Sunset Park) from the proposed streetcar route.

  • In 2018, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) gave its commitment to transition its entire public bus fleet to a zero-emissions, all electric fleet by 2040.