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New York State Seeks to 'Drive Down' Use of Single-Occupancy Vehicles
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July 15, 2013

New York State Seeks to 'Drive Down' Use of Single-Occupancy Vehicles

By Cheryl Kaften
TMCnet Contributor

New York is rolling out a nearly $2 million public-private statewide campaign to reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicles on the road and to promote greater fuel efficiency.

Today, transportation consumes three-fourths of all petroleum used in New York State and is responsible for 40 percent of the greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted into the atmosphere. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) have partnered to provide funding to 11 businesses, non-profits and research institutions to promote energy-saving technologies designed to reduce emissions. NYSDOT will furnish $695,000; NYSERDA, $484,000; and an additional $700,000 will be backed by recipient cost-sharing.

The program will realize its objectives by employing the following tactics:

  • Decreasing the number of single-occupancy vehicles on the road and promoting the use of mass transit;
  • Improving fuel efficiency by coordinating traffic signals in response to real-time traffic conditions;
  • Promoting upstate bicycle use and car- or bike-sharing as viable means of alternative transportation; and
  • Evaluating innovative freight delivery strategies and vehicles for congested urban areas.

This is the seventh joint research and development solicitation between NYSERDA and NYSDOT. To date, more than 70 innovative, cost-shared projects have been selected for funding at locations throughout the state. 

Image via Shutterstock

Initiatives under the program will bring benefits to upstate New York as well as the New York City metropolitan area—among them:

Western New York

  • Buffalo Carshare ($250,000): To demonstrate, evaluate and quantify the economics and environmental benefits of battery electric vehicles in an hourly car-sharing application;
  • Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus ($162,000): To develop a program to use smart card technology to provide easy access to multiple alternative transportation options—including bus, rail, car-sharing, bike-sharing, secure bicycle storage facilities, and reserved parking for carpoolers and alternative fuel vehicles; and  
  • GObike Buffalo ($75,000): To develop a new bicycle master plan that will reduce automobile traffic and improve quality of life.


  • Genesee Transportation Council ($75,000): To study the feasibility of a bike-sharing program to serve the City of Rochester and the Rochester Transportation Management Area, which includes all of Monroe County and the populated areas of Livingston, Ontario and Wayne counties;
  • Energetics Incorporated ($75,000): To study the applicability and quantify the benefits of installing idle reduction technology on NYSDOT Region 4’s diesel-based fleet, with the ultimate goal of expanding the installations statewide.


  • New West Technologies LLC ($234,000): To demonstrate, evaluate and quantify the economic and environmental benefits of a battery-electric propulsion system in a New York State Canal Corporation work boat. The vessel is based in Utica and will be used to maintain the canal’s operations. Funding: $234,000 

Capital Region

  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute( $75,000): To develop a decision-support system integrated with local traffic expert knowledge, which would ease traffic at intersections, by enabling “smart” lights to stay green longer for the road with the congestion; and
  • Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute ($20,000): To conduct a series of three advanced transportation lighting seminars for engineers from state, county and municipal public highway departments, and engineering and design professionals who work with lighting systems on New York State roadways.

New York City

  • New York City Department of Transportation ($112,500):  To test “off-hour” truck delivery (10 p.m. to 6 a.m.), which has the potential to significantly reduce fuel use, emissions, and related congestion, and provide assistance with the purchase and evaluation of noise-reducing equipment to be used in off-hour deliveries;
  • WXY Architecture + Urban Design ($75,000): To study the feasibility of creating freight-based “Green Loading Zones” in New York City in order to encourage the use of electric vehicles and idle-free delivery technology; and 
  • The University Transportation Research Center at the City University of New York (25,000): To support an outreach and educational opportunity to demonstrate to delivery companies the use and benefits of small-sized, alternative delivery vehicles such as bicycles

“NYSERDA is pleased to once again join with the state Department of Transportation to help fund these innovative projects that can help reduce the energy footprint of the transportation sector," said Francis J. Murray Jr., president and CEO, NYSERDA. “As Governor Cuomo seeks to reduce our fossil fuel consumption in all facets of energy use, these projects have the potential to limit the environmental impact of cars, trucks, trains, buses and boats in New York State.”

New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald said, “These research projects will help develop programs and technologies that support economic development and job growth, enhance mobility and traffic safety, and protect air quality and our environment now and for the future. We look forward to a continuing partnership with NYSERDA and innovators across the state as we all work to improve traffic management and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Edited by Rich Steeves

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