Good News, New Jersey: A 2021 Recap on Carpooling, Electric Vehicles, and Air Quality
Amidst another year of the COVID-19 pandemic, New Jersey leads the charge for electric vehicle adoption and continues to beat the drum for the fight against climate change. Residents of Mercer County, Ocean County, and New Jersey as a whole have much to celebrate about 2021 and much to look forward to in 2022. This article is the second part of a series by Greater Mercer looking back on what happened in the realm of transportation, safety, commuting, and environment in the year that has passed.
Electric Vehicles and Air Quality
- Nationwide: Earlier in the year, President Joe Biden took a step towards fighting climate change via the slashing of greenhouse gas emissions and released an executive order aiming to make half of all new vehicles sold in 2030 electric, a major push for revolution in the U.S. electric vehicle market. He also vowed to replace the U.S. government’s fleet of roughly 650,000 vehicles with electric models as the new administration shifted its focus toward clean-energy. In April, he committed $174B to electric vehicle development with the American Jobs Plan and Infrastructure Plan. Part of the administration’s efforts also included a new vehicle emissions standard that would cut pollution through 2026.
- Automobile Industry: In response to US policy, major automakers like Hyundai, Rolls Royce, Toyota, Jeep, Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover, General Motors, Ford, and Chevrolet shift attention towards EV manufacturing. To leverage the US’s focus on electric vehicle adoption, automobile companies are now ditching gas to focus on converting their lineups to electric vehicles or hybrids. While some companies expressed plans and interests in manufacturing EVs, it was in 2021 that we saw major car companies make serious moves towards the full switch and begin to build battery factories or electric vehicle assembly plants in the U.S.
- New Jersey Electric Vehicle and EV Supply Equipment Policy: Our very own Garden State leads the charge in the United States and the East Coast with clean energy, climate change, and electric vehicle initiatives. Governor Phil Murphy made solar power and EV adoption and infrastructure development central to his clean energy plan, going so far as to pass an ordinance that allows the easy build out of new electric vehicle charging stations in every New Jersey town.
- New Jersey Fleet Electrification: Governor Murphy’s administration takes clean air and vehicle electrification initiatives a step further with plans to spend $100 million to buy electric buses and trucks to provide relief to some of the state’s most pollution-vulnerable communities. The program includes funding for NJ Transit electric bus deployment; grants that will fund the purchase of electric garbage, delivery trucks, electric school buses, and shuttle buses; funding for mobility project grants for EV ride-hailing and charging stations; and the electrification of port, cargo-handling, and industrial heavy-duty equipment to reduce diesel and black carbon emissions.
- Regional Partnerships: Metropolitan Planning Organizations like the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) both launched information campaigns and resource pages to help counties and local municipalities plan for and implement EV-related initiatives. These resources are regularly being updated to show the most accurate and pertinent information.
NJTPA EV Resources (for Ocean County residents)
- Resources for EV adoption: https://ev-resources-njtpa.hub.arcgis.com/
- Municipal Toolkit for EV adoption: https://togethernorthjersey.com/tnj-sustainability-toolkit/electric-vehicles/
DVRPC EV Resources (for Mercer County residents)
- Interactive database of existing and projected demographics and infrastructure demand: https://dvrpcgis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=793fa4e10eac43b387adfc9cd2621a3d
- Resources for EV adoption: https://www.dvrpc.org/EnergyClimate/ElectricVehicle/
- Greater Mercer’s Guide to EVs: In November and December, we released a three-part simplifying and demystifying electric vehicle adoption in New Jersey. Find them here:
- Part 1, Electric Vehicle Basics or The Everyman’s Guide to EV’s: https://gmtma.org/the-everymans-guide-to-evs/
- Part 2, Municipal Considerations for EV Adoption or The Changemakers Guide to EV’s: https://gmtma.org/changemakers-guide-to-electric-vehicles/
- Part 3, EV Planning For Businesses, Hotels, Apartments, and More: https://gmtma.org/electric-vehicle-planning-for-businesses/
Carpooling and Rideshare
- Waze and GMTMA PickUP: Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association (GMTMA) partnered with Waze Carpool, a carpooling app that connects drivers and riders already going to similar work destinations to ride together. With GMTMA’s new program, PickUp, potential or current employees residing in Mercer County and working in the 8A warehouse/ CR 571 district qualify for rider and driver subsidies and incentives. Read more here: https://gmtma.org/pickup/
- Rideshare Saves Lives: The Journal of Studies of Alcohol and Drugs released a study showing that the prevalence of ride-hailing services can cause reductions in the number of alcohol-involved crashes. The study was conducted in Chicago and can be found here: https://www.jsad.com/doi/full/10.15288/jsad.2021.82.720
- Via Expands Services in Jersey City, NJ: Via, a New York-based provider of ride services and transportation technology, saw great success in Jersey City this year after launching their services in February 2020. Residents, workers, and visitors could travel throughout the city for as low as $2. The Via partnership helped connect neighborhoods with “transit deserts” or areas that were inaccessible by bus or train to destinations in and around downtown Jersey City. As the popularity of the service skyrocketed so did wait times for service, prompting the provider to expand services and add more vehicles to their fleet– a happy problem!
In the realm of EV, rideshare, carpool, and air quality space, it’s onwards and upwards for New Jersey! As the pandemic and the challenges of climate change transform our transportation behaviors and needs, we hope to see more adaptable, innovative, and community-focused initiatives. We’ve got our fingers crossed for an exciting 2022 as more and more options arise for transportation that are good for commuters, good for businesses, and good for the environment!