New York City is saying goodbye to many of its hybrid buses in order to save some cash. The MTA is planning to phase out as many as 389 of its hybrid engines in favor of diesel ones, which they argue emit less pollutants than they did in the past. While it’s understandable that the city is trying to cut costs, it’s disappointing that the health of New Yorkers and the commitment to the environment that was made previously have been put on the back burner in favor of some extra bucks.
The switch back to diesel buses all comes down to simple economics. According to the New York Post, a five-year warranty on 100 of the city’s hybrid buses is set to expire, which means that the MTA would have to shell out the money to make repairs to their engines, which will no longer be covered by the manufacturer. The MTA argues that diesel buses (priced at $500,000) have become more fuel-efficient over the years and cost significantly less compared to the $800,000 hybrid buses. But despite higher efficiency standards, the cheaper vehicles still contribute to ground level ozone pollution and emit harmful nitrogen oxides and sulfur into the air.
The new clean diesel engine technology is not without fault and will continue to release the same pollutants but on a smaller level compared to the engines of the past. With diesel still being a major contributor to particulate matter and carbon monoxide pollution, the MTA’s cost-conscious solution skips over the direct benefits of all-electric buses as a cleaner, fuel-saving alternative.
In comparison, the city of Los Angeles has decided to take a different approach to making public transportation both safe for the environment and the public while saving fuel costs for the city. They recently ordered up 25 all-electric buses in a pilot program that, if successful, will call for an additional 20 buses to be added to the 100 percent clean energy fleet.