Jason Ben Nathan / Sun File Photo/Sun File Photo

Ithaca's Common Council passed the 2020 budget last Wednesday, which calls for a provision of funds for the "Green New Deal."

January 24, 2020

After Ithaca’s Green New Deal, TCAT Charts Course for All-Electric Future

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After Ithaca’s Common Council unanimously voted to adopt a Green New Deal resolution in June 2019, the Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit named its own mission to confront the climate crisis.

As part of their resolution, TCAT is expected to reduce carbon emissions from its vehicle fleet by transitioning to a completely battery-electric powered fleet by 2035, while newly constructed buildings in Ithaca must produce 40 percent less greenhouse emissions.

“For TCAT, the city’s commitment to [Green New] Deal tells us that transportation will be an integral part of our community’s plans now and into the future,” said Scot Vanderpool, general manager of TCAT.

Despite TCAT striving to make access to its services more equitable, Vanderpool acknowledges that the carbon emissions goal of the Green New Deal won’t come without its challenges.

TCAT has received Volkswagen settlement funding to transition to electric-powered fleet vehicles and infrastructure — but the money is depleting, according to Vanderpool. Since electric-powered fleet vehicles cost more than diesel vehicles, additional financial assistance on a state and federal level is necessary for the organization to continue to transition to electric-powered vehicles.

Within these environmental efforts, the Common Council has also created a new position — director of sustainability — to lead initiatives in the city to meet the 2030 carbon emissions goals.

Vanderpool hopes that this new position will collaborate with the TCAT to identify potential funding opportunities for the organization’s energy transition and future transportation projects while continuing social efforts, such as breaking down “the silos of our community.”

“Overall, we aim to continue improving transportation options for people who are transportation vulnerable, so they can get to jobs, health care, recreation, and other services,” Vanderpool  said. “This can support a more integrated and equitable community, which dovetails nicely with the objectives of the Green New Deal.”