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Everett casino sued over idling shuttle buses

The Conservation Law Foundation yesterday sued the Encore Boston Casino and four bus companies over casino shuttle buses it charges were allowed to idle for more than the state-allowed five minutes at locations in Everett and Medford, including the Wellington T stop.

In its suit, filed yesterday in US District Court in Boston, the foundation said it sent observers to the T stop and Mystic Street in Everett, near the casino, last fall and found 301 instances of buses idling for longer than five minutes - in one case at Wellington for two hours and 36 minutes.

The five-minute rule is part of a state regulation adopted as part of an agreement with the EPA under the federal Clean Air Act. The foundation charges that letting the casino's diesel buses idle for longer than allowed releases "fine particulates, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, benzene, formaldehyde, and forty other kinds of toxic air contaminants" that can harm nearby residents, elementary-school students, parks and wildlife.

Fine particulates have been found to impair lung function, aggravate respiratory illnesses such as asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema, and are associated with premature deaths.

Exposure to NOx can aggravate respiratory diseases, particularly asthma, leading to respiratory symptoms (such as coughing, wheezing or difficulty breathing).

Longer exposures to elevated concentrations of NOx may contribute to the development of asthma and potentially increase susceptibility to respiratory infections.

People with asthma, as well as children and the elderly, are generally at greater risk for the health effects of NOx.

Exposure to SO2 can cause respiratory illness, including aggravation of asthma, other adverse effects on breathing, and alterations in pulmonary defenses, as well as aggravation of existing cardiovascular disease.

In its complaint, the foundation asks a judge to order Encore's owner and the bus companies to stop letting buses just sit with their engines running and pay $99,681 for each day where buses were found to be idling for more than five minutes.

PDF icon Complete complaint598.67 KB


What is the motivation to idle diesel vehicles all day? My neighbor idles his bigass pickup all evening and it's annoyingly loud. Something about the bass tones just penetrate right into my skull. To my non auto mechanic sensibilities it seems like a waste of fuel/money and excess engine wear. Is there a reason besides pissing off neighbors?


Guessing the drivers are waiting in the busses between shifts and want to keep the heat/AC on and/or plug in their phones.


Vehicle idling is much worse at Alewife, Back Bay, and Q Adams, but none of them are linked to a polarizing casino. Wellington is peanuts in comparison. Once again. CLF fumbles.


Idling means the driver can leave the heating/cooling on. I see this with school buses too.


No one likes to sit in a cold vehicle, especially paying customers.

Which states " last fall." Like September and October. It's in the second paragraph.

Or call up the actual complaint, which lists the dates and times of the several hundred observed violations.


How else is your neighbor with the big truck supposed to signal to people that he has undersized genitalia?

Props to the foundation for holding people who are ruining our health and planet accountable. Cops should be doing this but they are super guilty of this crime too.


Because the radio needs to be on and it drains the battery pretty bad (and the laptop).

Barney Fife, when a typical two way radio filled most of the trunk of a squad car. However, today's two way radios draw minimal current and will run for hours off a car battery before draining it down to the point it won't be able to start the car.


I do know it is not uncommon for police cars needing jumps tarts often because of electrical equipment being left on. (Most electronics shut off when the vehicle is shut off but that need to be programmed in).

Although I'm not sure how much the lights and other stuff affect currents even when they aren't on. I have a Motorola XTL5000 and I don't believe the car battery is ever affected even if the car is off with the radio on. Even the lights don't seem to affect the car battery as much any more. I'm guessing many vehicles still have older motorola radios and aren't hooked up in the most efficient manner.


Totally ridiculous how much fuel this wastes that is paid for by taxpayers.

I heard that police cars have so much electronics that they need a special heavy duty alternator, since a stock alternator would burn out from running all the time. Various computers for runnig your license, scanning every license plate that passes by, and who knows what else.

Radios really don't draw much power.
The heater and fan draw much more power.

Not that I've been inside one, but looking from the outside, the car is loaded with electronics - radios, computers, etc. There has to be a prety good electrical drain.

The only significant drain is when the radio is transmitting, which is unlikely to be happening if the car is unoccupied. And the laptop is no different than the one an average person has - the power is drawn from the internal battery, which is then charged through the external source.

If you left all the electronics on overnight, yes it would drain the battery. But the current draw isn't severe enough to require the car be constantly idling when parked.

Disclaimer: I am a radio hobbyist and amateur radio operator.

The computer could probably be wired more smartly.

Likely the inverter never turns off, so the computer is always thinking it's drawing off an unlimited supply of power and thus doesn't attempt any of its power saving functions - dimming/turning off the screen, slowing processor speed, delaying unimportant processing, etc

And the average idling time is probably around 10 minutes. They probably want to listen to the radio, keep warm/cool, not want to turn the engine on/off 10 times a day, etc

I would also hope the group video recorded the times, because no judge is going to fine anyone 90K a day for anything without hard evidence.


They should subpoena the engine diagnostic logs.

Diesel engines drive better when kept warm by idling. Which is horrible because diesel exhaust itself is extra horrible.


Diesel engines drive better when kept warm by idling

When you say "drive better", what exactly do you mean? And pending that clarification, I'd like to see some proof that it's necessary to idle a vehicle to keep it warm.


Clearly you have likely never operated a diesel vehicle. For anyone that has operated one, let alone own one, the question was stunning.

In some commercial applications such as large diesel truck fleets, and even with diesel locomotives, it is commonplace to plug in the trucks (and locomotives) to a power source overnight. This assures that the crankcase of the engine is at a reasonable temperature that will allow a reasonable start-up process. If the engine block becomes cold or becomes increasingly difficult to start the unit, and in some instances it may not start at all due to crankcase oil that has thickened due to cold temps, as well as fuel oil that has done the same and not flowing properly.

Starting a cold diesel engine can result in some cylinders not firing properly and they will smoke very bad until the engine warms up. To avoid this, and a potential for a choking cloud of smoke, keeping the engine warm in winter is highly desirable.

No one wants this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6ouGek0r4Y Snowy day too.

And is that a concern for the amount of time an Encore bus waits at a stop?

The law is clear: no idling. If you decide to buy a vehicle that has trouble starting in the cold, it's your problem to equip it with a block heater and find a place to plug it in.

It isn’t that diesels drive better when they’re kept warm. The issue is starting Diesel engines when temps are low.

State should fine the MBTA with their old fleet of diesel buses the smog they all accumulate, I walked by one, an idling bus at a stop on Meridian street in East Boston and I couldn’t believe what I was breathing into my lungs , I had to hold my breath in, but I felt bad for all the elderly and kids waiting outside to get on bus.


while this may be happening, the law is not just for buses - it is for any vehicle - personal cars, trucks, etc. AND there is an allowance for vehicles to idle that need to for comfort or mechanical need (think: refrigerator truck, ambulance, police car (while doing nothing, lke sitting at a detail while sleeping... ). CLF is making a easy point - but they should not just go after these buses. The law: https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXIV/Chapter90/Sect...


Mechanical need yes, comfort no. Did you read the link you posted?

...real solutions. I saw this on Vice:
...and after waatching looked into our own laws here in MA. Sure enough there is an Idle Law:

Where I work (an industrial area) we have an ongoing issue of large trucks blocking loading docks, parked where they are not supposed to be, etc etc. I was getting nowhere complaining to building management, BTD, city council, etc. One call to Boston's Air Pollution Control Commission cleared the place out like a bad fart.

The person I spoke to on the phone said they would send someone out right away and an hour later there wasn't a semi in sight.

Laws like this are important for average citizens to know. I made my neighbors aware of it at a civic association meeting regarding some development going on in our area and not even the board members knew about it. Its a good way to keep the developers in check, an annoyance, but these folks need to play by the rules and at least know the neighbors are watching.
Not to mention this is just good for everyone's health, safety, and the environment.
Keeping the heat/AC on is no excuse. If you have to wait that long and are parked legally then turn the engine off and go inside somewhere. If not parked legally I guess weigh which fine you want to pay or if it's worth being cold/hot over.

to avoid this problem entirely.


People would also love for Encore to tear down the dead Edison Plant next to them, clean up every bit of Mystic River pollution, and create miles of greenways . But there's this thing called "within reason". And btw, any electric bus, electric rail, or anything electric for that matter around Encore, will be powered and charged by the Mystic Exelon FF plant for the foreseeable future.