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Dan Hinton

Clean Transit for America

Senators Schumer and Brown propose a massive shift to electric buses that would create union jobs

Daniel Hinton's picture
May 10, 2021

Following the lead set by the Biden administration’s American Jobs Plan, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio have proposed the Clean Transit for America plan to mitigate climate change, improve air quality, and develop a transit training program for good-paying union jobs. Environmental advocates and unions including Local Union No. 3, IBEW joined Sen. Schumer at his press conference outside the Tuskegee Airmen Bus Depot in Harlem on May 4 to publicly announce the plan he is bringing to Congress and the Biden administration.

Sen. Schumer and Sen. Brown already support the American Jobs Plan, which is being negotiated in both chambers of Congress. Biden’s $2 trillion plan includes $25 billion for electric public buses, $20 billion for electric school buses, $15 billion for building 500,000 charging stations along the Interstate Highway System, and $14 billion in tax incentives for electric vehicles (EV). The President has promised to employ IBEW members on these EV federal projects.

However, this would not be enough to make the serious changes we need, according to Sen. Schumer. Currently, only 2 percent of buses nationwide are zero-emission vehicles. The additional $73 billion in the Clean Transit for America Plan would fund the procurement of 155,000 zero-emission buses and vans, the construction of new charging stations, and the renovation of already existing infrastructure such as bus depots. These upgrades are particularly important in dense cities like New York.

““The Clean Transit for America proposal will replace dirty, diesel-spewing buses, create new American jobs, help save the planet and protect public health, particularly in our country’s most vulnerable communities,” Sen. Schumer said in the press release.

“This plan will create tens of thousands of jobs for IBEW members around the country by modernizing our nation’s mass transit buses to zero emission vehicles,” IBEW International Pres. Lonnie Stephenson said in the press release. “In particular, we strongly support the incorporation of the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP) into the plan, which will ensure charging infrastructure financed by this proposal is done by highly skilled electricians.”

In line with Pres. Biden’s proposals, “Buy American” requirements would apply to the zero-emission bus (ZEB) program as would federal labor standards including prevailing wage. Neighborhoods with the worst air quality would be prioritized.

The MTA, for its part, has already set the goal of a zero-emissions bus fleet by 2040. The additional federal funding would make transition upgrades like these feasible in dense cities such as New York.

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