Each Trip on the MTA Keeps More Than 10 Lbs. of Carbon Out of the Air

Every trip you make on an MTA train, subway or bus prevents an average of more than 10 pounds of carbon from entering the atmosphere, according to a new report prepared by the MTA in conjunction with The Climate Registry and the American Public Transportation Association. That's the same amount of carbon released by burning 3 1/2 pounds of coal, or the amount removed from the air by nine trees in a month.

Two-thirds of all New Yorkers live and work in the region served by the MTA, and as a result, New York State has the lowest per person energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in the nation. This distinction results from pedestrian-friendly land-use patterns that are made possible by the MTA's safe and reliable public transportation. It has related economic advantages, like a low impact on New Yorkers from rising gas prices.

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The MTA has released a four-page report that detailed how the MTA's public transportation operations help New Yorkers avoid releasing carbon and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. While the MTA emits just over 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents annually, its operations allow the region to avoid emitting close to 20 million tons of greenhouse gases thanks to three factors.

  • Mode Shift:

    When people choose to ride an energy efficient train or bus instead of driving a single-occupancy car, they are preventing tailpipe emissions from entering the atmosphere.

  • Congestion Relief:

    Because many New Yorkers choose to ride trains and buses run by the MTA, those drivers who remain have an easier time navigating the region's roadways, meaning less traffic and fewer idling tailpipes.

  • Land-Use:

    High capacity transportation promotes densely built-up cities and town centers. These places use less energy to heat and cool and encourage occupants to make trips by walking and bicycling, which further supports carbon reduction.

Using a formula created by the American Public Transportation Association and figures independently audited and verified by The Climate Registry, the MTA calculated its carbon savings based on the factors above, and determined that the average per-trip carbon savings afforded the New York region is 10.39 pounds. This varies by length of trip and mode of transportation used.

"The MTA may very well be the most powerful engine of sustainable economic growth in our entire nation," said MTA Chairman Joseph J. Lhota. "We move more than eight and a half million people by transit every single day, which translates into about 700,000 cars kept out of our city's central business district every day. But just because we make New York the most sustainable state in the U.S., that doesn't mean we can ignore our own environmental impact, which is why I am so delighted to be receiving such significant help from our partners at NYPA and NYSERDA."

"I applaud the NY MTA for being a frontrunner among public transit agencies in comprehensively measuring its own carbon emissions and the carbon emissions it saves the community it serves," said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. "This report clearly shows the critical role that public transportation plays in protecting our environment and making our country more energy efficient."