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Air Quality

T.A.: City, State Parking Drive Would Torpedo Taxi Initiative

hybridcab.jpg 
The increase in CO2 caused by over 20,000 parking spaces sought by the city would "effectively take away
more than one-third of the gains" promised by Mayor Bloomberg's hybrid cab plan.

As previously reported on Streetsblog, the city and state are currently teaming up to bring some 20,000 new parking spaces to Manhattan's far West Side, and are fighting a lawsuit that stands in their way.

Two weeks ago, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation scheduled a hearing on its proposal to alter the Clean Air Act State Implementation Plan (SIP). The change would accommodate the city by removing references to -- and, consequently, restrictions on -- parking from the SIP. The hearing had to be postponed when state officials didn't show, but Transportation Alternatives has posted testimony, based in part on a study by Streetsblog contributor Charles Komanoff, countering the claim that the city's falling carbon monoxide numbers are somehow reason enough to green-light a huge increase in parking inventory.

In its single-minded focus on CO, the Administration's SIP revision ignores other criteria pollutants such as PM 2.5 (fine particulates) and ozone, levels of which are above than the federally mandated attainment levels for the region, to the severe detriment of the health, environment, and quality of life of New Yorkers.

Further, by dismantling a policy that has reduced the incentive to drive personal vehicles on the most congested city streets -- a policy developed to achieve the goals of the Clean Air Act -- the Administration is setting itself on a collision course with the admirable long-term sustainability goals that New York City has committed to under PlaNYC 2030.

T.A. commissioned KEA to estimate the increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that will result from the auto trips that will be generated by the additional 23,000 parking spaces. With a very conservative estimate of just 1 vehicle round-trip per commercial space, and accounting for residential and mixed-use spaces, the additional parking would lead to the production of an additional 129,000 annual tons of CO2. For reference, this increase in CO2 will effectively take away more than one-third of the gains promised by Mayor Bloomberg's innovative plan unveiled yesterday (May 22) to more than double the mileage efficiency of every medallion taxicab in the city.

Photo: Brad Aaron

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