Should the New Tappan Zee Bridge Have Public Transit?

The latest proposal for a new Tappan Zee Bridge omits funding for any new public transit. Why do we need more public transit now! Less pollution per person using the bridge!!

We all know driving creates pollution. The latest proposal to fast-track a new Tappan Zee Bridge does not include funding for any new public transit on the new crossing.

Below, we take simple look at the impact on local air quality of NOT putting more people into public transit.

The New York State Department of Transportation reports that annual trips across the TZB have been rising steadily in recent years, reaching 134,947 AADT (two way Average Annual Daily Traffic) for 2010. This volume makes the TZB the third busiest bridge in the entire state.

Let’s ignore where a driver will start or end her commute over the Tappan Zee Bridge. Let’s just examine what pollution occurs during the drive over span of the bridge alone.

Over the course of 250 annual roundtrips, each solo commuter passing over the 3.03 mile bridge span itself will emit one half metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent exhaust (1164 pounds or 0.53 metric tons of CO2e).

This emission assumes a fuel efficiency of 25 miles per gallon per car, which is above average for passenger vehicles on the road today.

If that commuter rides a bus instead over the bridge, her commute’s contribution to local air pollution drops 93% to three-tenths of a metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent exhaust (75 pounds or 0.03 metric tons of CO2e).

The dramatically lower emission for public transit assumes 55 passengers on a diesel bus that gets 6.0 miles per gallon.

So, in short, if you ride Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) over the new TZB all year– instead of driving yourself–you will lower your annual pollution contribution by 1,088 pounds just for the bridge’s 3 miles.

For every added mile you can switch from solo car to bus, you save another 360 pounds. If you ride the bus from a commuter lot in Nyack to Tarrytown’s MTA station, about 6 miles, you would cut your personal contribution to local air pollution by 2,178 pounds per year.

Robin Urban Smith at StreetFilms has a good short, new video on why we need BRT on the TZB. 

For more why Bus Rapid Transit makes good sense for a new Tappan Zee Bridge, see, a public information effort spearheaded by Kate Slevin and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign


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Frank J February 19, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Building the bridge without mass transit just doesn't make sense. True most people now drive but that's because it's so inconvenient to take metro north. You either have to take a bus or a ferry to Tarrytown to catch a train. Putting mass transit on the bridge would allow for residents of Orange and Rockland to get on a train and not get off until they got to Grand Central Station. We know that the population on the west side of the Hudson is growing and not preparing for it will only result in more traffic, more traffic jams and more time for the comuters. This one time, I think we should look at the future and prepare for it.
Leo Wiegman February 19, 2012 at 08:55 PM
According to the 2010 US Census, Orange and Rockland Counties are fastest growing area in the entire state. Rockland grew from 287,000 in 2000 to 312,000 in 2011 (8.7%). Orange is growing even slightly faster (from 341,000 in 2000 to 373,000 in 2010 (9.2%). Westchester grew only 2.8% from 923,000 in 2000 to 949,000 in 2010. So, just taking into account population growth west of the Hudson. it would seem prudent to put more people into public transit or face even more crowded roadways.
Dan Thaler February 19, 2012 at 10:28 PM
And if gas prices take a permanent jump folks will be looking for options to driving.
Leo Wiegman February 21, 2012 at 03:36 AM
@Adrian Berezowsky: I agree, the next best outcome to a new bridge with public transit built in upfront would be a new bridge that was designed to include public transit--like Bus Rapid Transit--or as you put itwell--does not preclude BRT.
Mike S March 01, 2012 at 04:50 AM
Yes, If a new bridge is built, it should be built with mass transit in mind. If it isn't included in the initial project, it should be designed with the ability to add the transit at a later time. At the very least, a railway to the Tarrytown station would help out.


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