Attorney General James Stops School Bus Company from Polluting in New York City Communities
Hoyt Transportation Allegedly Exceeded Limits on Vehicle Idling,
Leading to Air Pollution in Communities of Color
NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced a settlement with Hoyt Transportation, Inc. (Hoyt Transportation), a Bronx-based school bus company, ending its alleged practice of excessive idling at bus yards. Excessive vehicle idling causes air pollution, endangering the health and wellness of neighboring communities. As part of the settlement announced today, Hoyt Transportation will implement an extensive anti-idling training program for drivers, engage an idling manager to monitor idling behavior, and pay at least $38,850 in penalties. Funds secured from the settlement will be used to support projects to fight pollution and improve air quality in overburdened communities in New York City.
“Vehicle idling can lead to increased air pollution, which poses a serious threat to New Yorkers’ health and safety,” said Attorney General James. “School bus companies like Hoyt Transportation must do their part to protect our communities by addressing excessive idling. In our continued efforts to combat air pollution and environmental injustice, my office will always ensure companies like Hoyt Transportation honor their responsibilities to the communities they serve.”
Hoyt Transportation operates a fleet of more than 300 school buses out of four bus depots in the Bronx, all located in or near low-income communities or communities of color. Using data provided by Geotab, the fleet management system that the Department of Education (DOE) has installed on all New York City school buses, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) found that the company had repeatedly and persistently exceeded city and state idling limits at its bus yards and other locations across the city. New York state law, with certain specific exceptions, prohibits idling for more than five minutes, and New York City law prohibits idling for more than three minutes, or one minute when adjacent to a K-12 school.
Geotab data obtained by OAG show that between October 13 and December 20, 2019, one bus idled over two hours on 13 separate occasions (a total of 4986 minutes of idling) at the Hoyt Transportation bus yard located at 1271 Randall Avenue in the Hunts Point neighborhood of the Bronx. This same bus also idled 83 other times at the same yard, with an average of 16 minutes each time. The data also indicate a different bus idled 51 times at the Randall Avenue depot in December 2019, averaging 25 minutes each time. Three of these instances were also over two hours in duration.
Tailpipe emissions from cars, trucks, and buses are one of the leading sources of air pollution in New York state due to the release of smog-forming pollutants, soot, and greenhouse gases. Idling is a significant source of these emissions, with an estimated 130,000 tons of carbon dioxide emitted in New York City alone each year. New York City suffers roughly 1,400 premature deaths every year — the highest death toll in the Northeast — and pays billions in health costs due to significant pollution from the hundreds of thousands of vehicles that operate in the city.
Emissions from diesel-powered, heavy-duty vehicles like buses are particularly harmful to surrounding communities because they emit fine particulate matter that has been linked to numerous problems including asthma, cancer, heart disease, and other serious health impacts. Vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, and those with respiratory ailments are particularly impacted. The health impacts of soot and air pollution exposure are disproportionately felt in low-income communities and communities of color in New York City. These communities have the highest truck and traffic volume and are often home to industrial facilities and bus yards located in close proximity to residential neighborhoods. The children in the high poverty areas of Central Brooklyn, the South Bronx, and Upper Manhattan are three times more likely than children in other areas of the city to be diagnosed with asthma.
In addition to the minimum $38,850 in penalties, Hoyt Transportation will pay another $66,000 if the company does not enter into an agreement to purchase an all-electric, zero-emission school bus by May 2025.
Today’s settlement continues Attorney General James’ efforts to ensure that school bus companies do not illegally idle and pollute the air. In May 2022, the Attorney General filed a lawsuit against three New York City bus companies for causing significant air pollution in communities of color by violating city and state bus idling laws. In April 2022, she reached an agreement with Reliant Transportation, the now-defunct owner and operator of 838 school buses, following an investigation that revealed the company's unlawful idling practices.
“It has been well documented the direct effect air pollution has on communities of color in the South Bronx,” said Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson. “To learn that despite decades of enforcement, education, and awareness campaigns holding businesses accountable for compromising the health and safety of nearby residents already burdened by high rates of asthma, Hoyt Transportation is exceeding state-mandated idling limits set at 5 minutes for heavy-duty vehicles, including non-diesel and diesel trucks and buses with a gross vehicle weight of more than 8,500 pounds. Their actions have worked to further pollute communities across the Bronx — many still reeling from the effects of COVD-19 and other health disparities. I want to thank Attorney General Letitia James and her team for her advocacy and for holding Hoyt Transportation accountable.”
“For too long, many low-income communities and communities of color in the Bronx have been overexposed to dangerous pollutants and vehicle exhaustion due to location and negligence,” said State Senator Alessandra Biaggi. “Companies, such as Hoyt Transportation, have a responsibility to mitigate their harmful environmental impacts and protect the wellbeing of the vulnerable communities they operate in. I am grateful to Attorney General James for consistently holding these companies accountable, and for fighting to improve the quality of life for communities in the Bronx.”
“As someone who suffers from asthma, I know all too well how the polluted air we breathe can lead to long-term health issues,” said New York City Council Member Rafael Salamanca. “Home to thousands of heavy industrial businesses, the South Bronx has disproportionately suffered the consequences of contaminated air more than other parts of New York City, so much so that the area has earned the nickname ‘The Asthma Alley.’ Today’s announcement from Attorney General Letitia James sends a strong message that the blatant disregard for the wellbeing of New Yorkers will not be tolerated in any form. Attorney General James has long been a champion for environmental justice, and on behalf of my constituents, I thank her for her unrelenting commitment to ensuring my community has clean air.”
“Attorney General James is continuing to protect our communities and city by sending another clear message to school bus companies that illegal idling will no longer be tolerated. The excessive idling committed by these companies, coupled with emissions from other heavy-duty vehicles, spews tons of pollutants into our air, harming our communities and fueling the climate crisis,” said Kevin Garcia, Transportation Planner, New York City Environmental Justice Alliance. “We will need every tool in the toolbox to make sure that school bus companies discontinue this unlawful practice and are transitioning to electric vehicles.”
“We are proud to see Attorney General James continuing to take the fight to school bus companies that ignore the law. These companies that continue to illegally idle dump harmful pollution into the air we breathe and fuel asthma and other lung diseases in our communities,” said Dariella Rodriguez, Director of Community Development, The Point CDC. “Environmental justice communities, like Hunts Point, have had to bear the brunt of disease caused by air pollution from diesel vehicles for too long. School buses should represent education and a thriving future for our children, not pollution and diseases.”
This matter is being handled by Affirmative Litigation Section Chief Yueh-ru Chu under the supervision of Environmental Protection Bureau Chief Lemuel M. Srolovic. Data Analyst Anushua Choudhury of the Research and Analytics Department assisted in the matter. The Research and Analytics Department is led by Deputy Director Megan Thorsfeldt and Director Jonathan Werberg. The Environmental Protection Bureau is a part of the Division for Social Justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General Meghan Faux and overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.