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New steps to reduce vehicle emissions in Boston

Additional resources for electric vehicle access, charging infrastructure, and a more sustainable City fleet reinforces the Wu Administration’s commitment to a city Green New Deal.

Mayor Michelle Wu today announced several new steps to reduce vehicle emissions by accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles and other low-emission transportation options in Boston. The steps were announced at a December 10 hearing of the City Council Committee on Environment, Resiliency and Parks on Docket #1044, sponsored by Councilors Matt O’Malley and Ed Flynn.

The Mayor announced a new Fleet Utilization Policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the City's vehicle fleet, as well as expanded access to electric-vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure and EV car share programs. These actions support the City’s carbon neutrality goals and expand upon Boston's Zero Emission Vehicles Roadmap, which outlines pathways to provide publicly available EV charging stations or EV car share options within a 10-minute walk of every household in Boston by 2030. In tandem, these steps support widespread adoption of electrification, help ensure affordable, convenient access to charging, and accelerate the electrification of the municipal fleet.

“We need urgent action to drive down vehicle emissions and protect the health of our communities,” said Mayor Wu. “These steps will contribute to cleaner air and lower emissions, advancing Boston’s efforts to become a Green New Deal city.” 

“With federal investments in electric vehicle charging stations, proposed legislation on increasing tax credits for purchasing EVs, and our automakers shifting their focus to electric vehicles - it is critical for us to ensure that the City of Boston has the infrastructure in place to meet future demand,” said Councilor Flynn. “I want to thank Councilor O’Malley for his partnership, and Mayor Wu and her Administration for taking steps to accelerate the transition of our municipal fleet and increasing Boston’s public charging infrastructure to ensure that we reach our carbon neutrality goals, and do our part to combat pollution, climate change and sea level rise.”

“I am thrilled to see the implementation of the new Fleet Utilization Policy, which furthers the City's net-zero carbon goals, making Boston a cleaner and healthier city,” said Chair of the Environment, Resiliency and Parks Committee Matt O'Malley. "By addressing our vehicle emissions through expanding electric-vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure and adopting an efficient municipal fleet, the City of Boston is leading by example and creating more access for more sustainable vehicle options."

The City of Boston maintains 1,200 vehicles in its fleet, not including school buses and public safety vehicles, to support departmental needs and the effective delivery of services to its residents. Forward-looking fleet management is crucial to support City operations while meeting the emissions reduction goals laid out in the City’s Climate Action Plan. The new Fleet Utilization Policy will increase City workers’ use of shared rather than individual vehicles, reduce unnecessary vehicle purchases, and accelerate the electrification of light-duty vehicles. Right-sizing the municipal fleet and transitioning to electric or other clean vehicle technologies can mitigate approximately one quarter of greenhouse gas emissions from Boston’s municipal operations.

Mayor Wu is taking additional steps to create convenient, environmentally-friendly transportation options by expanding the City of Boston’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure in municipal lots. An additional 28 publicly accessible EV charging plugs will be installed in Nubian Square, Mattapan Square, Uphams Corner, and South Boston in January 2022, and 50 more will be installed throughout 2022. 

Recently, the City of Boston partnered with Nuestra Comunidad and E4TheFuture to launch Good2Go, a community-based EV car share service in Roxbury. This recent expansion adds four additional EVs to the Nubian Square area. It provides clean and convenient personal transit options for area residents, with a focus on equity and affordability for low-income residents. Qualifying residents pay as little as $5 per hour, making this an affordable transportation option that reduces carbon emissions and facilitates a car-free lifestyle. Together, these three steps align with Go Boston 2030, the City’s transportation plan to create accessible, sustainable transportation options for all Boston residents. 

“Switching our vehicles from gas-powered to electric is a critical component of ensuring our streets are healthy and sustainable while helping us achieve our carbon neutrality goals,” said Reverend Mariama White-Hammond, Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space. “This is an exciting option for the City of Boston to ensure that our employees and residents have access to vehicles that better align with our environmental goals.” 

"The City of Boston is always looking for innovative solutions to provide safe, clean and reliable transportation to our workforce," stated Public Works Director of Fleet Maintenance, Bill Coughlin. "We're excited to expand our electric fleet and charging infrastructure, and we remain committed to cost-reducing, green technology that improves air quality and reduces emissions." 

“The installation of electric vehicle charging infrastructure will provide additional options for our residents to get to where they are going in an environmentally friendly and convenient way,” said Boston Transportation Department Interim Commissioner Bradley Gerratt. “We are looking forward to expanding this program in all of the city’s neighborhoods.”    

Transportation accounts for nearly a third of Boston's total greenhouse gas emissions, 65 percent of which comes from personal vehicles. These initiatives expand upon the Wu Administration’s commitment to a city Green New Deal and equitable access to transportation. Last week, the City Council voted in favor of Mayor Wu’s proposed appropriation order for $8 million in federal funds to eliminate fares on the 23, 28 and 29 MBTA bus routes for a two-year period. Mayor Wu also signed her first ordinance to divest City funds from the fossil fuel, tobacco and private prison industries.

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