Tuesday, April 15, 2008

MTA moves to solar power

The MTA announced on Monday that it would begin installation of solar panels on the roofs of bus depots, warehouses and other structures in a nod to the environment. The authority hopes to generate 7% of its electric needs from renewable sources by 2015.

Peter H. Bass, director of environmental and energy policy for the MTA, said the cost of using solar power is expected to be about $1 million dollars more per year than if that power were purchased from Con Edison.

While the agency should be commended for this initiative, there are two things the agency could do today to benefit the environment and save money at the same time:

1) End the use of diesel locomotives throughout the system, except when absolutely necessary; e.g., when power has been cut and repairs must be made. The outdated diesel engines used by the MTA spew an incredible amount of particulate matter (one of the most harmful forms of pollution) into the atmosphere. The garbage trains that collect the trash from subway stations often use diesel engines.

2) Begin using plastic railroad ties throughout the NYCT subway and elevated lines. Plastic ties have several advantages over the wood ties that have traditionally been used; they are made of recycled materials and can be installed incrementally as needed, they have a longer life than wood ties, and they are not a source of pollution as are wood ties which are treated with creosote, a highly toxic substance.

The Long Island Railroad began installing plastic ties on the Montauk line in 2007, so the MTA is well aware of the benefits. Let's pressure them to implement these two common-sense measures.