Transit Equity Rally: Workers & Community Members Demand Electrification of Transportation to Preserve our Climate and Create Jobs

Jersey City, NJ – Dozens of people gathered at City Hall on Tuesday, February 6 to show support for the electrification of New Jersey’s transportation system. The event, organized by Jersey Renews in partnership with the Amalgamated Transit Union, brought together a diverse assembly of speakers to address how electrified public transportation can reduce air pollution, promote healthier communities, create jobs, and address climate change.

“Jersey City stands with Jersey Renews and the Amalgamated Transit Union in their mission to promote the electrification of transportation,” said Mayor Fulop. “On a local level, we are actively finding ways to reduce pollution, and I am proud to announce that we are beginning the process of installing electric vehicle charging stations and transitioning our municipal fleet to electric power. Together, we will continue to find ways to reduce our carbon footprint and build cleaner, healthier communities throughout New Jersey.”

“Gasoline powered vehicles are harmful to our environment and our health, especially in dense urban areas like Jersey City. Dangerous levels of pollution from cars, trucks, and buses on busy roads and highways make thousands of New Jerseyans sick and cost us millions of dollars in avoidable healthcare expenses. Jersey City’s commitment to electrify their transportation system is a big step toward a cleaner environment while promoting good paying green jobs for working families. We applaud Mayor Steve Fulop and the Jersey City Council for taking decisive action in promoting renewable energy and a cleaner environment,” said Analilia Mejia, director of New Jersey Working Families Alliance.

“Emissions from the transportation sector account for more than 40% of greenhouse gas emissions in New Jersey, so it’s critical that the state and other municipalities follow Jersey City’s lead by investing in alternative transportation, especially mass transit. The electrification of our bus fleets is just one common sense solution for confronting the climate crisis, with the added benefit of improving the health and safety of workers and community members,” said Dan Fatton, executive director of the New Jersey Work Environment Council.

“Our communities need safe, reliable, affordable, clean transportation,” said Fletcher Harper, GreenFaith executive director. “The municipalities of our state and NJ Transit have an opportunity to do the right thing by making bold investments in electrifying their fleets. With too many of our urban centers suffering the impacts of air pollution, these investments are an urgent priority.”

“Our cars and trucks are the largest source of global warming pollution in the state,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “Mayor Fulop should be commended for jumpstarting the electric vehicle revolution in Jersey City and for taking a leadership role to promote aggressive state action on electric vehicles.”

“Our drivers spend hours every day driving buses throughout New Jersey and we recognize that converting to electric buses can improve the air quality for them to breathe while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Ray Greaves, ATU NJ State Council Chairman and State Business Agent.

“Port adjacent and environmental justice communities like Newark need relief from dirty diesel whether it’s from transit buses or the 14,000 trucks coming in and out of the port every day,” said Amy Goldsmith, New Jersey State Director for Clean Water Action. “Converting diesel powered fleets to electric will not only significantly reduce our carbon footprint,  but also the number of children gasping for air while experiencing an asthma attack, emergency visits and premature death for those most vulnerable to pollution and its harms.”

“Our cities have suffered disproportionate air quality impacts for generations, and have the most to gain as we transition to electricity to fuel transportation. We congratulate Mayor Fulop for his leadership and encourage our other New Jersey cites to follow his lead. The benefits – lower electric costs for all of us in New Jersey, and cleaner air for all of us to breath, far exceed the costs,” said Pamela Frank, CEO of ChargEVC.

“Trentonians are almost twice as likely as the average new Jerseyan to use public transit to get to work. Electrifying public transit will help the people of Trenton, Jersey City, and other underserved communities in New Jersey reach thousands of local jobs without contributing to pollution that damages public health and the climate,” said John Hart, chief operating officer at Isles, Inc.

“In New Jersey, buses carried almost 160 million passengers in 2016 – that’s 72% more passengers than rail,” said Nick Sifuentes, executive director for Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “If you’re a commuter, taking a bus is always more environmentally sound than using a private car – but right now NJ Transit has an aging fleet of diesel buses in need of replacement. At the same time, electric buses are cost-competitive with traditional buses, thanks to lower maintenance costs and longer lifespans. If NJ Transit wants to be forward-looking and strive to meet our carbon goals, they’ll invest in electric bus replacements as diesel buses reach the end of their useful lives.”

New Jersey is one of the largest automobile markets in the country. Light-duty automobiles, like a standard family car, are the dominant source of transportation emissions, but heavy-duty vehicles, typically diesel trucks for industrial or commercial use, as well as buses are also a significant source of emissions. Every traveled mile converted to electric is 70% cleaner than a gas-powered mile. New Jersey has already taken steps to become a leader in EVs by being the first state to adopt a Clean Cars program through the Legislature, which includes a Zero Emissions Vehicle program, mandating aggressive growth. But additional state investment in electric charging infrastructure and electrified mass transit, like the steps taken by Jersey City, is needed to push New Jersey to the front of the pack on air quality and greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

The event was organized by Jersey Renews, a broad-based coalition of labor, faith, community and environmental organizations.