Fox and Campbell advance
pollution controls with NJ TRANSIT buses
Transportation Commissioner James P. Fox and Environmental Protection Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced the State’s commitment to protect New Jersey’s air quality by purchasing 60 million gallons of ultra low-sulfur fuel for its buses over the next three years. This action will reduce pollutants from NJ TRANSIT commuter buses that currently contribute to higher levels of smog and particulates, making our air unhealthy to breathe.
Fox, who also serves as chairman of the NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors, said the state’s transit agency will move forward this year on the cleaner fuel purchase, reversing a previous announcement to suspend the purchase. The result of this decision means the State will achieve clean air goals sooner and hopefully see fewer hospital admissions due to asthma attacks.
“While NJ TRANSIT initially decided to postpone the purchase it became clear that we should not delay and Commissioner Campbell agreed. When faced decisions about costs or the public health, we must remain committed to protecting our residents, especially those in the urban areas of our state. They experience a disproportionate volume of truck and bus traffic and they bear the biggest burden,” Commissioner Fox said. “We’re making strides to clean our air, but we still have a way to go. We should be doing everything we can to maintain programs like ultra low-sulfur fuel.”
“With today’s action, Commissioner Fox and NJ TRANSIT are sending a clear message to all New Jersey residents: NJDOT is setting a new course to help protect our air,” said Commissioner Campbell. “Communities throughout the state have a strong advocate in Commissioner Fox. This decision will particularly help our urban areas, which bear the greatest burden of our air pollution and suffer the most from asthma and other respiratory problems.”
This fuel switch will result in a 90 percent reduction in sulfur emissions, 75 percent reduction in total hydrocarbons, 30 percent reduction in carbon monoxide and approximately 25 percent reduction in total particulate matter.
These pollutants contribute to increased levels of smog and particles that can create life-threatening conditions for asthma sufferers. Each year nearly 3,000 people are hospitalized for asthma attacks in Newark, New Brunswick and Trenton. Asthma affects people of all races and ethnic groups. However, minorities are disproportionately affected.
The decision to advance the ultra low-sulfur fuel program reverses a decision in February by NJ TRANSIT, which was going to suspend fuel purchases for this year. Bids for the ultra low-sulfur fuel program were let again in March. NJ TRANSIT is scheduled to go before its board of directors next month for approval.
Fox and Campbell said that by advancing the fuel procurement, NJ TRANSIT is four years ahead of a federal Environmental Protection Agency mandate requiring buses to use ultra low-sulfur fuel. And, once ultra low-sulfur fuel usage begins after July 1, NJ TRANSIT will be among the first transit agencies in the nation to have a full fleet using the environmentally-friendly fuel, they added.