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Cities Shrink Car Fleets as Fuel Costs Grow
As fuel prices rise, gas-hogs aren’t the only ones downsizing their driving. Cities are also cracking down on time spent behind the wheel. A report in the Boston Globe states Boston area officials are implementing new standards for city employees who drive “take-home vehicles” provided by the city.
Unsurprisingly, employees are outraged that they’ll no longer be getting a free ride. The local police union in has told Haverhill, MA Mayor James J. Fiorentini that he has “no right” to raise the bar or scale back on the use of city vehicles by the police force. (First, how many cop cars at the Haverhill donut shop? Probably enough to warrant whittling the fleet—and some waistlines. When was the last time you saw a police officer patrolling a street beat who wasn’t directing traffic or overseeing construction?)
Fiorentini plans a 15 percent cutback on use of his city’s take-home fleet of 60 vehicles. In total, the city owns 230 vehicles. Despite a grievance filed by the union, Fiorentini is requesting that bosses provide “written justifications” for employees who claim they must have a car ‘round the clock.
Haverhill’s fuel bill for its city fleet has reached $668,600 already this year. (How much of that, I wonder, is from cars idling at the curb?) The Mayor has plans to monitor gas usage in city-owned cars by using GPS units and will forbid any of the vehicles from leaving Haverhill’s city limits except on city business. Drivers of city vehicles have also been instructed to reduce time idling, use efficient routes, and routinely check tire pressure.
Thanks to Fiorentini’s unrelenting strategy, the city of Haverhill has managed to reduce its in-use fleet by 11 cars, including four meter-reading cars, five police vehicles, one fire vehicle, and one health inspection car.
Other cities throughout Massachusetts are following suit, including Salem, Lynn, Malden, and Peabody, where Mayor Michael J. Bonfanti has never once used a city vehicle in all his six years in office.
Photo via flickr by meltingnoise
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