Several bills were passed in New York City Council on Wednesday to help address the inconvenience and traffic chaos expected during the planned 15-month L train tunnel closure for repairs due to damage from Hurricane Sandy, slated to begin in April 2019. The legislation calls for information centers in both Brooklyn and Manhattan, complaint investigation resources, and the fast-tracking of a new electric bus fleet, Curbed reports.
Image: Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
Two bills, authored by City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, speak to the confusion that will likely result as riders attempt to find their way through a drastically curtailed route. The first creates community information centers in Brooklyn and Manhattan to provide information for commuters about the reconstruction inside the Canarsie Tunnel.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) will work with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to make sure the centers are set up before the shutdown goes into effect next year. The second bill asks that the DOT designate an ombudsperson to take and investigate complaints in connection with the tunnel closure.
A third bill, sponsored by City Council Member Rafael Espinal, asks that the city’s planned electric bus feet be adopted sooner rather than later to help mitigate traffic snarls resulting from the L train shutdown. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the MTA have committed to testing ten e-buses as part of a three-year pilot program with the possibility of adding 60 more in the years to come. Resolution 377, which received unanimous approval from the City Council, would expedite that plan.
To that end, Cuomo announced Monday that the MTA has launched a three-year pilot of 10 all-electric buses, AMNew York reported. The main aim of the electric bus fleet is to reduce exhaust emissions; the first e-buses hit the road on Tuesday. If the pilot is successful, the plan is to add an additional 60 of the zero-emission vehicles to city streets. The new buses are quieter and have the capacity for modern amenities like Wi-Fi and USB charging ports in addition to being environmentally respectful.
“As we overhaul and reimagine the MTA, we have an opportunity to not only modernize our bus fleet but to also reduce emissions that impact the environment and public health,” Cuomo said in a statement. “This new program helps the MTA secure a cleaner and greener future while leveraging the latest in innovative advancements to push New York’s transit systems into the future.”
The MTA’s current fleet contains 5,800 buses. About 3,400 of them run on ultra-low-sulfur diesel; about 1,700 buses are hybrids and another 700 are fueled by compressed natural gas. In the U.S., it still hasn’t been proven that electric buses are worth their steep price, limited mileage-per-charge and extreme weather sensitivity.
Five of the new MTA buses from will run on routes in Brooklyn and Queens, including the B32. The other five will operate on Manhattan’s M42 and M50 routes.
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