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“Green Rides” initiative requires all vehicles to be zero-emission by 2035

East Midtown | Flickr

New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) Commissioner David Do have proposed “Green Rides”, which requires all high-volume for-hire NYC vehicles to be zero-emission or wheel accessible by 2035. This includes all 30,000 owned and leased vehicles in New York, making up the largest municipal fleet in the United States.

“When it comes to driving towards sustainable and inclusive transportation alternatives, New York City isn’t just along for the ride — in fact, we are leading the way,” said Adams in his State of the City address. “By championing the integration of zero-emission vehicles and wheelchair-accessible transportation, we are cutting dirty emissions and guaranteeing equitable transportation opportunities for every New Yorker. Green Rides marks significant progress towards establishing an environmentally conscious for-hire transportation system spanning all five boroughs. This transformative shift will serve as a turning point, propelling New York City towards a greener, cleaner, healthier future.”

However ambitious, enacting this legislation comes with its own challenges. One is the price of electric vehicles, which currently sits above internal combustion engine vehicles. However, The Taxi and Limousine Commission predicts that the price parity between both types of vehicles will occur in 2027 through federal and state incentives. The “Green Rides” initiative emphasizes, “with the upfront cost of purchasing an EV [electric vehicle] no longer present as a financial barrier, along with lower maintenance and charging costs associated with EVs, EVs will become more financially viable than ICE vehicles and allow for-hire vehicle drivers to access greater savings over time.”

By working with PlaNYC, New York City’s long-term strategic climate plan, New York plans on incentivizing residents through vehicle acquisition, reduced tolling and an increase in charging infrastructure. This includes implementing an electric charging vehicle within 2.5 miles of every New Yorker, and private parking lots and garages.

To encourage these changes throughout all five boroughs in New York, the TLC created yearly benchmarks to accommodate emerging electric technology. The official website of New York describes these benchmarks as “practical, implementable, and designed to ensure a smooth and efficient transition.” The Commission proposes a gradual increase in electric and wheelchair-accessible vehicles starting at five percent in 2024, then increasing the target to 15 percent in 2025, 25 percent in 2026, 40 percent in 2027, 60 percent in 2028, 80 percent in 2029 and 100 percent in 2030.

Josh Gold, senior director for public policy and communications at Uber, and Larry Gallegos, public policy manager at Lyft, are a few of many leaders in the transportation industry to voice their support for “Green Rides”. Julie Tighe, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters, explains that this enacted legislation is an “example of how strong climate legislation at all levels of government are combining with market forces to shift the economics in favor of clean energy.”

This legislation marks an increase in accessibility for disabled riders, reducing New York’s carbon footprint and mitigating the disastrous effects of climate change. Majority Leader Keith Powers spoke about environmental justice: “New York City continues to lead the country in creating a greener, more sustainable world.”

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