In Dorchester and Roxbury, the hospitalization rate of children with asthma is 178 percent higher than the rest of the state of Massachusetts. Of course there will be more air pollution in a metropolitan area such as Boston, but the city’s transportation system should be a part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Yesterday the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority was fined $18,000 for bus violations of the Clean Air Act. According to an EPA inspection, 31 buses lacked emission control equipment, which means that these buses are creating more air pollution than is legally allowed. This is unacceptable. Public transportation should be part of the pollution solution.
The fine the MBTA was slapped with is warranted. These buses’ high emissions are attributed to the high rate of asthma in area children. Hitting the MBTA where it hurts is the only way to force them to fix the problems. Buses should be held to just as high a standard as individuals who own cars, which means they are financially responsible for their detrimental consequences. Part of the MBTA’s plan to repair some of the damage it has done to asthmatics is to spend $30,000 on environmental projects combating asthma. This move to make amends is not enough.
The MBTA must be cognizant of the emissions of the vehicles in its fleets. It must strive toward keeping pollution low, and this must be kept in mind when they purchase new vehicles as well.
Children and adults alike should be able to breathe air that will not harm them, and whatever measures can bring the city closer to this goal should be taken. The MBTA should take it upon itself next time to meet or surpass emissions standards, without a fine driving them.