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Gas Prices May Prompt Downsizing Of Raleigh Vehicles

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RALEIGH, N.C. — What if Raleigh Police cars were mid-size, instead of full size? What if city maintenance workers drove compact pick-ups instead of full size trucks? Mayor Charles Meeker is asking these questions.

"With gas prices having gone up 75 cents in recent months, everyone's talking about it, and it really it's the time for us to do something," said Meeker. "And like the average homeowner, the city is really having its lunch eaten by big oil and we need to do something about it so we're not spending so much on fuel."

The city has hundreds of cars and trucks in its fleet, and that translates to hundreds of thousands in increased fuel costs.

"The city uses about 140,000 gallons a month, so that will give you an idea," said Meeker. "If you multiply that by the 75-cent recent increase, that's over $100,000 a month this increase is costing the city. And once you annualize that, you're talking real money."

It's not practical to make a trash truck smaller, but Meeker said there can be savings there also, by using alternative fuels in the whole fleet.

"The ethanol and bio-diesel will help, but it's really the smaller vehicles that are more fuel-efficient, because they weigh less," he said. "We're also looking at the possibility of acquiring some hybrids, which are also fuel-efficient."

However, some government watchers have their doubts about hybrid vehicles.

"Some local governments have thought they'll save a lot of money if they do that, but the cost of hybrids at this point is still significantly higher than regular cars," said Chad Adams with the John Locke Foundation. "So, to achieve the savings, especially in-town driving, it won't materialize for a very long time."

With the gas bill getting bigger, Meeker said getting smaller is the way to go. He wants an analysis done in 30 days, and then he will give the results to the City Council.


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