I often say that NJ TRANSIT has a commitment not just to the customers who ride our trains and buses, but also to the communities we serve. When it comes to climate change, that community is global — and NJ TRANSIT is working to change the way we work and deliver our services to reduce our impact on the environment. In honor of 2019 Climate Week, I wanted to highlight some of the many ways in which NJ TRANSIT is doing its part to promote a cleaner, greener environment.
The greatest benefit NJ TRANSIT has on the environment is by helping people move around the state and region with a minimal personal carbon footprint. NJ TRANSIT produces 50 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions per passenger mile than the average person driving alone. If all our customers traveled in personal cars instead of our trains and buses, it would mean the equivalent of more than 14 million miles of driving per year, clogging the roads and polluting the environment.
NJ TRANSIT’s role in reducing emissions can be even more significant and can lead to even greater benefits as our ridership increases; the more passengers who ride mass transit, the lower the emissions per passenger-mile. To get more people to transition from their personal cars to trying mass transit, NJ TRANSIT recently participated in Try Transit Week, an annual national initiative that encourages the use of public transportation. Last week, riders enjoyed discounted fares on our bus services during the midday hours, and we are offering free rides on the River Line and Newark Light Rail this Saturday from noon to 5:00 p.m.
Public transportation also promotes transit-oriented developments (TODs) — businesses, retail spaces, schools, and living areas that are constructed within close proximity to bus, rail, and light rail terminals and stations. For instance, NJ TRANSIT’s Hudson Bergen Light Rail serves the high-density areas of Jersey City and Hoboken and connects residents to ferries, PATH, trains, and buses. Many residents of these communities have no need of a car.
We are also working to reduce our carbon emissions through the introduction of electric powered buses. NJ TRANSIT is moving forward with an electric bus pilot project in Camden, consisting of eight electric buses. Set to begin in 2021, the pilot will allow us to study the benefits and challenges of this alternate energy source in real-world scenarios.
In addition to the benefits of mass transit on climate change, NJ TRANSIT is committed to making improvements internally that will significantly reduce energy use and lower emissions. For instance, in our Newark headquarters parking facility, crews are currently installing six new charging stations to support our shift to plug-in hybrids for our non-revenue vehicles, which can be as much as three times more efficient than our current gas and hybrid fleet. We’ve also changed our lighting and electric motor systems in our Newark, Maplewood, and Kearny locations, which results in 4.85 million fewer pounds of carbon emissions.
NJ TRANSIT is also accelerating solar power projects at our facilities. The new solar photovoltaic system on the roof of the Kearny Meadows Maintenance Complex (MMC) generates 819,000 kilowatt hours (kWhs) of renewable emission-free electricity, preventing 1.07 million pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Our Wayne Bus Garage is piloting a solar canopy that will not only serve as backup for emergencies, but also provide clean, renewable power for our bus operations every day.
These efforts, and more, underscore NJ TRANSIT’s commitment not only to providing a world-class transit service, but doing so in an environmentally responsible manner.
Happy Climate Week 2019!