It is a plan that builds on what Mayor Bloomberg started with PlanNYC. Buildings throw off the largest amount of greenhouse gasses, especially our buildings which operate all day and take so much energy to heat, cool and light.
This is a move that focuses on government buildings, but will ultimately lead to encouraging private owners to do the same. Some of the fixes in the future may be transitioning oil burners to B20 biodiesel blend burners. By burning a little less fossil fuel and a little more secondary oil, the burn is much cleaner.
One thing that governments stopped talking about, however, is the staggered work force. Remember when Utah experimented with a four-day work week in 2008? That plan did not produce the results Utah wanted, and they stopped it a few years ago.
We know two things from the Utah experiment: it was not a failure in that there were no major lapses in services, nor was there a loss of money (just no significant gain).
The other thing we learned from the Utah four-day work week is that some cities liked it. Can New York City toy with the idea of a four-day work week, or ten hour days for four days, in certain non-essential service sectors?
This is not to suggest that there are employees that are not necessary, but there may be some government agencies that can follow this plan. Whatever might alleviate energy costs and congestion should be on the table.
What is more, the city ought to put the MTA's proposed fare hikes on its energy agenda as well. If the unlimited monthly MetroCard goes up from $112 to $116, there should be an effort to get more small businesses on board with the pre-tax employee deduction.
Not all employers participate in this program, which can save people a lot of money at the end of the year. The reason for this is that employers need to pay a fee for each employee in order to get into the program, and that may make it counter-productive for smaller employers.
The city can make this easier for small businesses to adopt, and thus get a lot more people into the pre-tax MetroCard plan. Government that wants green travel should encourage green travel.
One of the mistakes that the Bloomberg administration made was relocating commuter buses to the west side away from Penn Station. Where buses like Bolt Bus and Megabus once stopped on the side streets around Penn Station, they are now an uncomfortable trek to the middle of nowhere.
It was a truly awful idea, although some bus companies may not be thrilled with the Port Authority option and may have opted for the desolate west side.
These green solutions are realistic. Keeping subway fares down is a more daunting task, but making it easier for riders to get into the pre-tax system is definitely a possibility.