News

Did you blink and miss Earth Day? Since transportation has taken the lead from coal power plants as the top contributor to global warming, it’s always a time to bike, walk and take transit. Yes, transit still runs on fossil fuel, but there are small signs of progress toward electrifying it, allowing clean renewable solar- and wind-generated electricity to power our entire transit system.

The CTA is using six more all-electric buses, for a total of eight in a fleet of 1,800-plus buses. Even with 17 more on the way, it’s still unclear how the CTA will meet a goal of electrifying the bus fleet by Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s original goal of 2030, or the current goal of 2040.

Metra has 150 diesel locomotives. It’s getting a small zero-emission battery-powered switcher locomotive for its train yard and started an initiative to convert three old diesel locomotives to battery-electric power to pull passenger trains. Pace, however, isn’t doing much to get off of fossil fuels.

Transit serves every community by reducing congestion and providing access for all. But zero-emission electric cars are part of the solution to our climate and clean air challenges. We need to electrify the fossil-fueled transit vehicles that make up the backbone of our regional mobility system.

And we need strong leadership at our transit agencies, at the city, state and federal level, to make that happen.

— Brian P. Urbaszewski, environmental health director, Respiratory Health Association, Chicago