Motorists & Parking

Alternative Fuels Program

Reducing emissions through increasing our use of alternative fuels and retrofitting vehicles is crucial to improving New York City's air quality. The mission of the Alternative Fuels Program is to promote understanding and increased usage of alternative fuels and alternative fuel vehicles within New York City. The Program has two goals:

  • To make the air cleaner and safer for New Yorkers so that we can breathe easily and without worry
  • To promote the use of alternative fuels and alternative fuel vehicles in New York City by both the private businesses and government agencies

New York's Emissions Reduction Goals

One of the most dangerous pollutants is particulate matter (PM) - commonly known as soot. Its small size lets it drift deeper into the lungs, where it can cause inflammation and other damage. According to the U.S. EPA, up to 15,000 premature deaths a year are caused by exceeding the emissions standard of PM 2.5.

A paper by the Environmental Defense Fund "All Choked Up" shows that New Yorkers living within two to six blocks of a busy road are likely to be at higher risk for conditions including cancer, heart disease, impaired childhood lung development, asthma attacks, and lung disease in adults. The City's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene estimates that a 10% decrease of current PM levels in New York City would result in hundreds fewer deaths annually.Our goal is to reduce PM 2.5 emissions across the City by 9% by 2015 and 39% per square mile by 2030. To accomplish this, the Alternative Fuels Program is working to replace New York City's public fleets with alternative fuel vehicles in order to promote and expand usage of alternative fuels which are much less polluting to the air and more friendly to the environment. The Program works closely with all levels of government agencies that operate fleets in New York City, as well as utilities (KeySpan and Con Edison) and some private sector fleets.DOT will lead the way by greening our operations and offering incentives to private fleet owners and vehicle operators to do the same. We will also partner with City Hall, the MTA and the Port Authority to promote hybrid and other clean-energy vehicles.

Alternative Fuels Program

DOT is expanding the use of biodiesel, compressed natural gas and hybrid electric technology throughout our fleet. Nearly 700 of our 3,000 vehicles use this technology already.We are using cleaner burning fuel and filtering the exhaust from our Staten Island ferry fleet. In 2005 in the first project of its kind in the US, one of our ferries (Alice Austen) was outfitted with a Selective Catalytic Reduction system and a Diesel Oxidation Catalyst, achieving a 70% overall nitrogen oxide (NOx) reduction (17 tons a year). The success of that trial has led us to begin outfitting the entire fleet with clean technology. Two of our larger ferries have received mechanical upgrades, and because they are larger than the Austen we have reduced NOx output by over 120 tons a year. The remainder of the fleet will be completed in 2008.DOT's fleet vehicles, heavy equipment, and over 2000 power tools refueling at the Harper Street Yard in Brooklyn fill their tanks with B5 (95% diesel and 5% soy-based vegetable oil. B5 is currently being introduced at the department's other refueling stations as well. We are also already testing the cold-weather performance of B20, an even cleaner burning fuel.

The Staten Island ferry fleet burns between 60,000 and 70,000 gallons of fuel every week. We are currently testing the use of B5 fuel in the John F. Kennedy and finalizing a contract to provide B5 for the entire fleet. All of our new construction equipment is delivered with the latest emission reduction technology. And over the next two years DOT's older heavy equipment will be outfitted with technology that can reduce emissions up to 85% when combined with ultra-low sulfur fuel. We also intend to introduce hydrogen fuel for our light duty fleet and gas to liquid in refuse trucks in late 2008.

Other Measures to Reduce Tailpipe Emissions

In 2005, vehicles traveled 18.6 billion miles through the five boroughs, approximately 48 million miles per day. Each year, these trips generate about 11% of our local PM 2.5 emissions as well as 52% of NOx and 32% of VOC (volatile organic compounds) emissions, both of which contribute to PM 2.5 levels. There are four main ways to reduce transportation-related emissions: decrease the amount of time vehicles spend stuck in congestion and idling; use less and cleaner fuels; and filter exhaust before it is released into the air. DOT's alternative fuels program is just one part of the overall picture of reducing emissions from the transportation sector. We are  partnering with the MTA to create select bus service corridors, making mass transit faster and more accessible for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who currently live far from existing subway lines. We are also building out the City's 1800-mile bicycle master plan to foster bike commuting.

Encouraging the Private Sector

DOT and NYSERDA award grants to private industry to help in the procurement of alternative fuel vehicles. DOT with NYSERDA offers funding incentives to private fleets to retrofit their diesel trucks with exhaust filtering technology in order to reduce exhaust produced as trucks idle. We are currently working with Manhattan Beer, UPS, FedEx, and Coca-Cola. DOT will soon launch a separate grant program to retrofit truck fleets based at the Hunts Point Market in the Bronx. Nearly 15,000 trucks pass through Hunts Point daily. Finally, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) has committed to requiring that, beginning October 1, 2008, all taxicabs coming into service (with the exception of accessible taxicabs) must be capable of achieving a city mileage rating of 25 miles per gallon (mpg). As of October 2009, all new taxicab vehicles must have a minimum city driving rating of 30 mpg.

More Information on Alternative Fuels

For more information on the types of alternative fuels, the environmental damage caused by vehicle emissions, and links to other helpful information sources, read more about alternative fuels (in pdf format).

Reducing Emissions From Non-Road Equipment (Local Law 77)

Local Law 77, which was signed into law in 2003, requires the use of ultra-low sulfur diesel and "best available technology" for reducing emissions from non-road equipment used on City construction projects. Read the Verified Technologies List of diesel retrofit technologies that have been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use in engine retrofit programs. Read a summary of verified diesel emission control strategies by the California Air Resources Board.