MBTA fined $18k for bus engine emissions

The Environmental Protection Agency yesterday fined the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority $18,000 to settle Clean Air Act violations accumulated by the state’s bus fleet. In addition to the fine, the MBTA agreed to spend $30,000 on environmental projects combating asthma.

The fine stems from a January 1999 EPA-conducted inspection of MBTA buses. According to the EPA, 31 buses lacked emission control equipment. The agency also failed to provide proof of emission control in 18 additional engines.

The engine emissions may have contributed to a high rate of asthma, said EPA New England director Mindy Lubber in a written statement. In Dorchester and Roxbury, the childhood hospitalization rate for asthma is 178 percent higher than the rest of the state.

The fine comes in the middle of public hearings on the agency’s five-year Capital Improvement Plan. The plan will cost a total of $2.91 billion and cover all modes of transportation, said MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo. The subway system alone will receive $1.1 billion for improvements and expansion.

If the plan is adopted, the Green Line subway will see a share of $689 million dedicated to maintaining the existing fleet of subway, commuter rail and bus cars. There are no plans to extend the hours of Green Line service, Pesaturo said.

Specific additions to the Green Line will include new trolley cars and the addition of three-car trains. Handicapped access will be implemented at underground stations including Copley, Arlington and Government Center. Escalators and elevators will be repaired or removed.

The plan also funds the new $417-million Silver Line, a hybrid bus line connecting South Station to the new Federal Courthouse, World Trade Center and Logan Airport.

The majority of the funds, or about $1.7 billion, will cover infrastructure costs.

T fares will not be raised anytime soon to accommodate the cost of the projects, Pesaturo said. Instead, funding will be obtained through bonds, capital funding and federal grants.

The next Boston public hearing on the plan will be Dec. 5 from 6-8 p.m. at Roxbury Community College.

This is the second year the MBTA has worked with a fixed budget. Prior to last year, the state secured any outstanding costs at the end of the agency’s fiscal year. However, under the Annual Appropriations Act, the agency receives dedicated revenue mainly through bonds and assessments paid by the 175 cities and towns in the MBTA district.

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