First Transit Sued Over Unlawful Vehicle Emissions

Conservation Law Foundation, Inc. (CLF) filed suit against First Transit, Inc. on Monday in the District of Connecticut. The complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief and civil penalties comes as a result of the defendant’s alleged unlawful vehicle exhaust emissions. The plaintiff filed suit over the defendant’s alleged violation of the Clean Air Act, a violation that negatively affected “the health and lives of Connecticut residents by repeatedly exposing them to harmful pollutants.”

First Transit is a transportation company operating out of Connecticut. The defendant uses diesel-fueled buses as a part of their business. Buses, according to the complaint, are known to regularly emit what is called self-pollution, generated from the exhaust in the bus’s engine. This self-pollution from vehicle exhaust is said to pose a significant risk to human health and the environment, as it contains “particulate matter, nitrogen oxide compounds sulfur dioxide, benzene, formaldehyde, and others air contaminants.”

The complaint specifically pertains to the New Haven Go Bus Stop, the Yale School of Medicine Shuttle Stop, and the Wolcott Hill Park and Ride, which hundreds of thousands of people live within a two-mile radius of.

The plaintiff has taken issue with the idle time that the defendant’s buses have at each of the aforementioned stops. Within the complaint, the idle time of each bus is expressed, with some idle times reaching as much as 35 minutes. CLF explains that the individual instances of idle time is indicative of the “Defendant’s normal practices and operations and therefore evidence a broader pattern and practice of idling over the last five years.”

The alleged excess idle time on the part of the defendant has exposed members of the plaintiff’s organization and other members of the community to the pollutants. Members of CLF assert that they are concerned that the pollutants, which are in excess of the regulatory provided by the Clean Air Act, “have harmed, continue to harm and threaten, and will harm and threaten their health, well-being, quality of life, and enjoyment, as well as those of their families.”

In addition to the Clean Air Act, the Connecticut State Implementation Plan prohibits “the unnecessary operation of a mobile source for more than three (3) consecutive minutes when such mobile source is not in motion.”

The complaint cites a violation of the Clean Air Act and Connecticut State Implementation Plan. CLF is seeking an injunction preventing the defendant from further pollution and requiring them to fully adhere to the Clean Air Act and the Connecticut State Implementation Plan, civil penalties of $101,439 per day per violation for a time period of November 2, 2015 to January 13, 2020, an order requiring the defendant to take action to remedy the harm they caused, and an award providing CLF litigation costs.