Car Makers to Go Green Inside and Out
It was good news when GM announced the new Volt, a plug-in hybrid, that is scheduled to hit the streets in a few short years, but it was great news when Honda Motor Co.'s FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel cell-powered car used plant-based fabric for its interior.
Every day, millions of people drive alone to and from work, battling bumper-to-bumper traffic while the HOV lanes are left largely empty. And in communities across the nation, families drive alone to do errands, drop off and pick up their kids at school and transport them to and from an endless list of activities that includes sports games, music lessons, birthday parties and more.
There are many downsides to solo vehicle trips: they create stress-inducing traffic congestion, collectively waste billions of gallons of fuel and, with gas prices at all-time highs, eat up a significant amount of cash on a weekly and monthly basis.
More worrisome is what effect this practice is having on the environment as it needlessly spews toxic vehicle emissions into the atmosphere. Carpooling can help save the environment, reduce our carbon footprint and save drivers a lot of money.
A number of shared commuting programs—including NuRide (www.nuride.com
) and Rideshare (www.rideshare.com
)—have already proven their effectiveness. Now there’s a new option for parents who want to reap the same kind of benefits on the home front.
Divide The Ride (www.dividetheride.com
) is a new program that offers parents a free, secure and easy-to-use method of creating carpools with families they know and trust. Using web-based technology from Peer360° Marketing, Divide The Ride helps busy parents by creating on-line carpool calendars based on parents' schedules. What makes Divide The Ride so unique is that it actually creates a complete driving schedule based upon individual calendars and availability. The only thing parents have to do is “check off” when they are available to drive, and Divide The Ride does the rest. The carpool calendar is then e-mailed to everyone in the group, along with text messages and e-mail reminders. Divide The Ride is a free service, and all information is safe and secure.
Using Divide the Ride could mean big money in the bank for parents, since carpoolers typically save substantial amounts on gas and maintenance costs. Carpooling just one day a week for a year can save the average driver about 1,200 miles on his or her vehicle and about $567 in total driving costs!
This past summer, Governor Rell announced the installation of bicycle racks on 100 buses serving the Greater Hartford area. The project was undertaken by the Federal Transit Administration, Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT), CTTRANSIT, Central Connecticut Bicycle Alliance (CCBA) and Capital Region Council of Governments.
"Last year, the bike racks on buses in New Haven and Stamford were used more than 27,000 times, and use is up again in 2007," Governor Rell said. "Clearly, people are enjoying the convenience that the racks offer. Adding racks to buses in the greater Hartford area will continue our progress in getting single occupant vehicles off the roads.
The bike racks are currently installed on 100 buses. Additional racks are being installed at a rate of two per day. The entire 237 bus CTTRANSIT Hartford fleet is scheduled to be equipped with the racks by Thanksgiving. The bicycle racks, already installed on all New Haven and Stamford CTTRANSIT buses, will give Hartford area passengers an added option when commuting.
"To get people out of their cars and onto our buses, it is our job to make that change as easy as possible. You have to give people a reason to change their habits, and this is a common sense idea that addresses what was once an obstacle to mass transportation. Now, people can ride their bikes to the bus stop. It's a healthy alternative."
The EPA is making nearly $1.7 million available for clean diesel projects under the 2007 Northeast Diesel Collaborative Emissions Reductions Grant Program. Project applications are being accepted under two national clean diesel programs: Clean School Bus USA and the Voluntary Diesel Retrofit program.
Projects may include a variety of diesel emissions reductions solutions such as add-on pollution control technology, engine or vehicle replacement, idle reduction technologies or strategies, and/or cleaner fuel use. All projects must benefit the air quality in the geographic areas that include Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, the U.S. Virgin Islands and/or Vermont; and Tribal lands belonging to the federally recognized Indian tribes in these regions.
“Diesel exhaust contributes significantly to air pollution, especially in urban areas. The fine particles in diesel exhaust pose serious health concerns, including aggravating asthma and other respiratory symptoms,” said Robert Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “This new EPA funding will help northeastern communities to enjoy cleaner, healthier air. EPA and the Northeast Diesel Collaborative are working to make that black puff of smoke a relic of times past.”
Starting in 2009, every new car sold in Connecticut will feature a sticker on the window that lets consumers know how much carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases a particular car releases into the atmosphere.
According to the article in The Town Times, "Under the new law, a label must be affixed to vehicles detailing the vehicle's greenhouse gas score, its score as compared to others of the same make and year, and the average score for vehicles within the same class. This began October 1, 2007.
The Environmental Protection Agency rates cars on a scale of zero to 10, where a score of 10 represents the lowest amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted. The score is determined by the vehicle's estimated fuel economy and its fuel type." By 2009, no cars will be able to be sold without the sticker.
To fund the program, Connecticut is adding $5 to the price of every new car registration.