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Air Quality

City Retires More Dirty Diesel Trucks in the Pollution-Plagued South Bronx

10:56 PM EDT on August 12, 2021

New electric tractor trailer. Photo: Fiifi Frimpong

A local beer hauler is getting a cleaner ride for its suds.

City officials gathered Thursday outside the Manhattan Beer Distributors facility in Hunts Point to unveil five new electric delivery trucks that they hope will help ameliorate some of the terrible air pollution in the truck-choked neighborhood.

The citywide beverage distributor as the first company outside of California to use the Volvo electric tractor trailers, which were bought with $925,000 from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York City Clean Trucks Program, according to the Department of Transportation.

The trucks will replace five older, diesel-powered trucks deployed by the company — or roughly 1.2 percent of its 400 trucks. Since the start of the Clean Trucks Program in 2012, 592 diesel trucks have been replaced. The program’s goal is to focus on communities that suffer most from truck emissions and poor air quality.

“I am pleased that we are able to [unveil the electric trucks] here in the Bronx where the effects of pollution are severely felt by the communities,” said Hank Gutman, the DOT commissioner. “This is an important step part of an evolution to make our air cleaner and protect our environment.”

New tractor trailer charging at Bronx facility. Photo: Fiifi Frimpong
New tractor trailer charging at Bronx facility. Photo: Fiifi Frimpong
New tractor trailer charging at Bronx facility. Photo: Fiifi Frimpong

The distributor was chosen because its facility is located in an industrial business zone near communities that have been exposed to disproportionate amount of diesel exhaust, contributing to asthma and other pollution-related health conditions. In Hunts Point, the nitrogen dioxide levels (measured in parts per billion) that contribute to asthma hospitalizations are 20.1 ppb —  more than 18 percent higher than the city’s average of 17 ppb.  

Gutman also cited climate change as a reason to subsidize companies to go electric. Three chargers inside the distributor's Bronx facility can fill empty batteries in 70 minutes, said Peter Voorhoeve, president of Volvo Trucks North America. Each truck has a range of 120 miles.

The electric trucks offer a greener solution, but do not address the problem of rampant double parking by delivery trucks, which has created dangerous conditions all over the city. Earlier this year, Gutman said the de Blasio administration strongly supports the spirit of a package of City Council bills that would “holistically” address the problem, but he later pushed back on a proposal by Council Member Antonio Reynoso that would require at least 25 percent of available curb space be repurposed for loading zones in residential and commercial zones.

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