electric vehicles
A rendering of a Town of Hempstead electric garbage truck. Town officials hope to transition its entire fleet to electric by 2040 and are currently in the testing phase of the Mack LR electric truck. (Courtesy Town of Hempstead)

The future of transportation on Long Island is quieter and cleaner. Two Long Island officials made announcements about test-running electric-powered, clean energy vehicles on Monday, just days before Earth Day 2021, and personal electric cars are on the rise, as well.

A 2020 study by a coalition called Drive Electric Long Island found that 30 percent of New York’s electric vehicles are owned on Long Island, despite Long Islanders comprising 15 percent of the population. Village of East Hampton, which has the second highest number of Tesla electric vehicles on Long Island, decided at its April 1 meeting to install more of Tesla’s electric car charging stations for the increase in Tesla vehicles. Roslyn has the highest number of Tesla electric cars on Long Island, according to the company.

“We’ve seen a lot of growth in our market on Long Island, especially on the eastern end,” said Shiva Krishna, a marketing representative from Tesla. “Just going out there a couple weekends ago, I couldn’t believe how many Teslas I saw driving around.”

But it’s not just cars — the Long Island Rail Road announced on Monday that it will be testing battery-operated train cars within the next month. No passengers will be aboard the trial runs, but they will give the LIRR a clearer picture of how to proceed with clean energy going forward.

The LIRR is working with Alstom, a European transportation technology company, to first analyze the possibility of attaching a battery to an electric rail car that could enable it to run on the LIRR’s diesel tracks. After about eight months, they will be tested on the Oyster Bay branch. LIRR officials believe they are the first in North America to test this type of technology.

“People have been talking about extending electrification to various segments of the railroad for generations,” said Phillip Eng, president of the LIRR. “Embracing new technology might allow us to essentially electrify the entire railroad without the need for billions of dollars in massive capital investments.”

Another near first-of-its-kind, clean vehicle is coming to the Town of Hempstead, which will test New York City’s Mack LR electric garbage truck later this year. New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) started its own tests with the truck in fall 2020.

Though no further details were announced, town officials said the pilot program is part of the town’s “Vision 2040” agenda to convert the town’s entire vehicle fleet to electric.

“As manufacturers race to devise the latest green technology, we at the Town of Hempstead are thrilled to take the proactive step by piloting this cutting-edge Mack LR Electric Garbage truck by the end of this year,” said Town of Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin said. “As part of ‘Vision 2040,’ we plan to pilot more clean energy vehicles across our various departments, pursue grants and incentives, and implement the necessary infrastructure required to maintain a successful electric fleet.”

-With Tim Bolger

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