Renae Reynolds

Transportation Nexus: Environment, Economy, & Equity – with Renae Reynolds, Electrify NY and the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance

Episode 22

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Hosted by
Ron Kamen

Ron Kamen has decades of expertise & leadership in catalyzing exponential change in sustainable energy adoption with communities, governments, non-profits, and businesses.

Quantum Quote: ” It’s great to get people from point A to point B, but we should also look at ways to avoid harm in doing so,” said Renae Reynolds, “We need to move around. And so we engage in modes of transportation that, depending on how they are fueled, lead to impacts on our health and environment.”

Renae Reynolds is the Transportation Planner for the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance and the statewide coordinator for Energize New York. Her work focuses on advocacy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector by electrifying New York’s transit buses, municipal fleets and medium and heavy-duty vehicles.

In this episode, Renae shares the importance of understanding how transportation intersects with equity and public health in communities of color & low income. She discusses advocacy efforts to evolve public transit buses to clean energy across the state, while creating good jobs and transitioning workers who currently manufacture diesel buses into building cleaner electric buses. 

The advocacy started with pilot projects, first getting the MTA (the New York City Transit Authority, the nation’s largest transit agency) to commit to transitioning its entire fleet to zero-emissions, all-electric public buses by 2040. A congestion pricing plan will now reduce traffic, improve air quality and provide a dedicated funding stream to improve the public transportation system, and neighborhood-based grassroots campaigns are making transportation improvements that equitably serve all New Yorkers.

Supernova 1: “ElectrifyNY is a statewide coalition of advocates from environmental justice, environmental advocacy, transit, advocacy, and labor who came together to advance vehicular electrification. We focus on public transit electrification as a way to tackle the public health and the climate impacts that the transportation sector has in its emission of greenhouse gases.”

Supernova 2: “A lot of things are challenging our communities. Greenhouse gas emissions are predominantly coming from the on-road traffic of diesel buses, trucks, and all kinds of vehicular traffic that traverse our neighborhoods. That means we have an extreme level of exposure to different pollutants, including fine particulate matter that has negative health impacts on our community. “

Supernova 3: “Predominant users of public transit are folks from low income communities and communities of color. We represent 75% of the ridership on the MTA fleet. “

Supernova 4: “We needed to engage with a large authority, the MTA, to secure that commitment. We did that through rallying and through cooperative meetings with the Authority. Similar activities will advance other fleet transitions.”

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Episode 22