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EPA and City of Boston Celebrate Clean Diesel Trolleys

Release Date: 06/14/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: Sheryl Rosner, EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1865,

For Immediate Release: June 14, 2005; Release # sr050608

BOSTON – At City Hall Plaza today, Mayor Thomas Menino and EPA Regional Administrator Robert W. Varney kicked off an unofficial start of the summer tourist season by announcing the completion of a project that equipped the city’s diesel tourist trolleys with advanced pollution controls – significantly reducing air pollution caused by driving the popular trolleys through historic areas of the City.

Reducing diesel exhaust has become a high priority for both the City of Boston and EPA, as the exhaust of diesel engines is known to cause lung damage and aggravate conditions like asthma and bronchitis. EPA has determined that diesel exhaust is a likely human carcinogen, and can contribute to other acute and chronic health effects.

The project was made possible with a grant from EPA's national Voluntary Diesel Retrofit Program. In 2003, the city of Boston was one of five communities selected to receive national funding for diesel retrofit projects. The city of Boston’s $64,000 grant was used to install oxidation catalysts on a total of 35 tourist trolleys operating in the city
"Recognizing the importance of clean diesel technologies, the City of Boston should be applauded for its work toward making the black puff of smoke a thing of the past.” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "I am pleased to announce that the City of Boston, Beantown Trolley and Old Town Trolley are the first tourist trolleys in the Northeast to install advanced pollution control equipment on its diesel trolleys and are leading the way in tackling diesel exhaust -- one of the demons of urban air pollution.”

Diesel oxidation catalysts reduce particulate matter emissions by at least 20 percent, hydrocarbon emissions by 50 percent, and carbon monoxide emissions by 40 percent. In addition, Old Town Trolley has begun using ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel, further reducing emissions and improving air quality for the residents and visitors to Boston.

"Boston is serious about air quality and public health and I am pleased to work with Regional Administrator Varney of the EPA to get these trolley buses retro-fitted and running cleaner on Boston's streets,” Mayor Thomas M. Menino said. “Our city has a high quality of life and is rapidly becoming a leader in green technologies; we've already cleaned up our school bus fleet thanks to EPA Region 1 and we look forward to new opportunities to lead the way to clean and green."

“This is truly a program that will help Boston stop asthma in its tracks,” said Laurie Stillman, Executive Director, Asthma Regional Council. “The most recent asthma statistics are staggering – with Massachusetts having the highest rate of adult asthma in the country; one in five households with children having at least one child reported to have the disease, and Boston having even higher rates with children ages 5-14 hospitalized at three times the rate as the Bay State as a whole.”

To reduce children’s exposure of harmful diesel exhaust, the city of Boston is equipping its 600 school buses with advanced pollution controls and is using ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel, reducing per bus emissions by 90 percent.

These projects add to the suite of activities underway in the Boston area to address pollution from diesel engines. Under the auspices of a new initiative called Greater Boston Breathes Better (GB3), numerous businesses, government agencies, and others are working collaboratively to find innovative ways to reduce pollution from transportation and construction.

More information about retrofit projects in New England is available at:

Related information:
Diesel Exhaust
Clean School Bus USA
Air Enforcement