MTA

A New Subway Line to Green the Apple

Want to know more? Visit the Second Avenue Subway Community Information Center at 1628 Second Ave.

Want to know more? Visit the Second Avenue Subway Community Information Center at 1628 Second Ave.

By Elias Rodriguez

Quickly navigating New York City’s mass transit system requires time, forethought and good fortune. It is still far cheaper than a taxi and better for the environment. According to the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability 43 percent of New Yorkers travel to work by subway and commuter rail.

One particularly vexing problem has been traveling from upper Manhattan’s east side to the lower east side via the underground. Thankfully, the city’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is nearly done with the first phase of the city’s solution. Namely, the Second Avenue Subway, which will be the first major addition to the serpentine subway system in 50 years.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the $4.45 billion project was on schedule, and it is still expected to open in December 2016.

Once the dust and schist rock settles, the new line will run along 8.5 miles from 125th Street in Harlem all the way down to Hanover Square, which is in the Financial District and near the South Ferry Terminal.

There is an existing subway line that runs up the east side, but to call it overcrowded would be a serious understatement. The transit authority expects a whopping 200,000 daily riders to hop on board once the train line is activated.

Using mass transit benefits the goal of improving air quality. When states and cities plan these capital improvements, it’s important that they consider transportation conformity. Transportation conformity is required by the Clean Air Act and basically means that planners should work to not cause new air quality violations or against air quality standards.

Ironically, this subway path does not represent a new line of thinking. During a bygone era, Manhattan had a train that ran along Third Ave. Can you believe that it ran above ground and was elevated over the city’s streets? The famous old “EL” or elevated was a source of infamous noise pollution complaints, not to mention a feature that seriously crimped the real estate market in its immediate vicinity. Upon the demise of the “EL” in 1950, the New York Times wrote: “A small segment of Old New York disappeared last night with a screech and a clatter and not a tear was shed at its passing.”

Well, if all goes according to plan, tears of joy will soon be shed by straphangers all over the city who will soon have a brand new subway route as they navigate the Big Apple.

 

About the Author: Elias serves as EPA Region 2’s bilingual public information officer. Prior to joining EPA, the proud Nuyorican worked at Time Inc. conducting research for TIME, LIFE, FORTUNE and PEOPLE magazines. He is a graduate of Hunter College, Baruch College and the Theological Institute of the Assembly of Christian Churches in NYC.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Energy Efficient Improvements to the Metropolitan Transit Authority

By Larry Siegel

I’ve long been interested in keeping abreast of news pertaining to developments in the area of energy efficiency, wind power, solar power and other forms of renewable energy. Towards that end I subscribe to various newsletters put out by organizations such as the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the Rocky Mountain Institute (which recently published a fascinating peer reviewed book “Reinventing Fire: Bold Solutions for the New Energy Era” that maps out a plan for running a 158%-bigger U.S. economy by 2050 without needing fossil fuels or nuclear power plants) and Greenjobs.com which reports on developments in the areas of solar, wind, alternative fuel sources such as biofuels, hydrogen and fuel cells.

Pursuing my interest in these areas I contacted the Metropolitan Transit Authority headquarters in New York to see what, if any, energy efficient improvements they are pursuing. I was pleasantly surprised to learn there is quite a lot going on – more than I can cover in one blog post. Here are some items worth noting:

  • Heating, cooling and ventilation upgrades to the equipment in Grand Central Station will save $3 million a year and reduce Metro-North Railroad’s annual carbon emissions by 10,000 tons.
  • Replacing incandescent bulbs with advanced technology light-emitting diodes (LEDs) will reduce electricity consumption by at least 1.04 megawatts per year, saving at least $500,000 annually.
  • Replacing vapor necklace lights on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, the Throgs Neck Bridge and the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge with high efficiency LEDs will reduce electricity costs by 73%. 832 lights at the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel were replaced with high-efficiency lighting, saving 500,000 kilowatts a year or $55,000 annually.
  • The Long Island Railroad is completing a train car wash facility in Babylon that will filter, recondition and reuse more than 70% of its wash water. In addition, solar power energy panels for the facility will save an estimated $6,700 a year on utility costs.

About the Author: Larry Siegel has worked as a writer of corporate policies and procedures and as a technical writer. He currently works as a Pesticide Community Outreach Specialist for the Pesticide and Toxic Substances Branch in Edison, NJ

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Is the Hassle of Public Transportation Worth It?

By Kasia Broussalian

The subway system of New York City boasts a number of milestones that shine through much of its grime…scurrying rats included.  The city’s rapid transit system is the oldest and most extensive system in the world. Last year alone it carried 1.6 billion riders through 468 stations and across 656 miles of revenue track.  This extensiveness, coupled with a 24-hour service routine, significantly cuts personal energy expense—especially where small geographic location meets an extremely high population density.

Don’t get me wrong—there are plenty of days when I am so exasperated with the system, I could fall to my knees and curse the very men who laid down those tracks in 1904.  There can be delayed trains, service disruptions (meaning no trains are coming), long wait times, and limited communication with the riders. Not to mention the scorching heat , little ventilation, and creeping rats that are enough to make any person think twice before making the perilous MetroCard swipe. There are upsides, though. Apart from the individual incentives; i.e. the no parking fees, no traffic headaches, etc, there are significant big picture contributions. About one-third of the United States’ total carbon emission comes from transportation, and 60 percent of that comes from personal vehicle use. Already, New York City rivals such “green cities” as San Francisco and Portland in terms of personal energy expenditure. The overall factor can be greatly attributed to our love-hate relationship with the subway system.

A few weeks back, I traversed a greater portion of the N train; from the East Village of Manhattan to the last stop at Coney Island. I noticed the traveler pictured above get on midway through my travels, and shortly after (perhaps two or three stops later), he hopped off. At this point I thought, “For all its faults, the subway really is the epitome of ease. Paths just out of walking distance or otherwise insurmountable to pedestrians become accessible and travelers can hop on and off without the hassle, or the pollution, of a car.” Tell us your experiences with the subway, exemplifying both its hassle and its ease.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.