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Raleigh environmental board devises fuel-saving plans

Posted April 16, 2007
Updated April 30, 2008

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— Raleigh city workers are driving more miles and using more gasoline than ever before as the city grows. It’s a sore spot city leaders would like to change, and they may have a plan for how to do it.

"It's something we're all concerned about," said Denny Murphy, chairman of the city’s Environmental Advisory Board.

"I think it's very important for cities to be more environmentally conscious,” Mayor Charles Meeker said Monday.

The City Council may do just that at its Tuesday meeting.

Members will get a proposal from the environmental board that says Raleigh should cut its reliance on fossil fuels by 20 percent over the next five years, including credit for good steps already taken.

"It's not going to be easy,” Murphy said. But, he added, “If we don't make it to the 20 percent goal, it won't be a failure. Anything over what we have now will be good."

Fuel dispensed for city vehicles has increased over the past five years from 1.29 million to 1.7 million gallons a year.

The advisory board’s suggestions include combining trips for departments and down-sizing from SUV's to sedans when possible. The board suggested that departments can coordinate their efforts to see if there are instances when people from different agencies could make one trip instead of two or more for service calls.

The city has about 1,700 vehicles in its fleet, everything from sanitation trucks to police cars to fire engines. Whenever possible, the board suggested, conventional vehicles should be replaced by alternative-fueled vehicles or hybrids.

Meeker says any initial costs for more expensive hybrids would be made up over time.

"Some officials have just signed proclamations and all that, but this really is a change." Meeker said.


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  • 68_polara Apr 17, 2007

    I have to agree with nc born here. Another matter to consider is that these patrol vehicles must have decent handling. A crown vic is no sports car by any measure but the police versions have heavier springs and shocks to reduce suspension slop and increase stability. Front wheel drive alternatives just don't have the necessary weight and proper weight distribution necessary to be safe at high speeds which is necessary to caught up to speeders and respond quickly to emergency calls. Also, a patrol car must have enough room necessary for a barrier to be placed between the front and back seats in order to transport those in custody. I don't think this is a good place look for fuel savings unless ford or some other manufacturer designs a capable hybrid for this use. But don't hold your breath because I would be very surprised if enough municipalities would be willing to spend that much more to for there patrol cars for a manufacture to design such a vehicle.

  • OLD PIRATE Apr 17, 2007

    The increase in gallons suggest there is a problem with management and not the product. If they can't control use, they will never see the savings they hope for. Put your pencil on higher priced cars vs. fuel savings. You will never break even if you don't cut back on "use"...Even new math can't help you

  • NC Born Apr 17, 2007

    90% of the vehicles used by the police department are ford crown vics. I agree that the city could save money by using other type vehicles in some departments but the police dept is not one of them. Our police cars are small enough as it is and anything smaller or with less horsepower would be dangerous and useless.
    There is alot of equipment running in the cars and when directing traffic they have to be left running so that the equipment will not kill the battery.
    I don't have a problem with giving nonuniformed officers a smaller more efficient vehicle but please dont take the larger crown vics away from the guys on the street. They need larger engines with alot of pickup and larger vehicles for protection in crashes.

  • rangerchef Apr 16, 2007

    By no means do I take for granted the service of our police but Is there really a need for large suburban type vechile for in the city driving? I don't imagine they load that thing up with 3, 4, 5 criminals.
    Furthermore - why do the cars need to be running, when the officer is out of the car directing traffic at the RBC center or carter-finely? I'm sure that is a drop in the bucket compared to a trash trunk...but creative ideas need to be sought not just "coordinating meeting" ideas.