GreenTech Media has reported that the federal government, via the Department of Energy, has granted $300 million for cities to work with industrial partners to buy alternative-fuel vehicles and set up refueling stations. The list of city winners, under the Clean Cities Program, includes New Haven, San Bernandino and Chicago. Some of the highlighted projects include natural gas garbage trucks in New Jersey, using landfill natural gas in Atlanta and Texas incorporating propane-fueled buses. The DOE estimates that these 25 projects will offset the usage of 39 million gallons of petroleum annually. That is nothing to laugh at for both environmental and foreign policy concerns.
In an unrelated story, Government Technology reported that city government in Washington, D.C. has adopted ZipCar technology to manage its communal fleet of vehicles. In the process, the city has been able to better organize its fleet and reduce its size. Here are some of the notes on the FastFleet program.
The city ultimately eliminated 360 vehicles from its fleet, bringing the total to approximately 1,200 (not including law enforcement vehicles, which aren’t eligible for the program).
At press time, DC Fleet Share used 58 passenger sedans — 56 of which are hybrids and two of which are powered by alternative fuel. Burns said the district’s vehicles are parked at several large office complexes that are home to city government. Between 10 and 25 Fleet Share cars are parked at each site.
Both of these programs are great news. Think about how many vehicles every city owns, from cars used for everyday puposes to police cars, firetrucks, ambulances, street cleaners, garbage trucks, school buses, delivery vans, postal service vehicles, maintenance vehicles and much more. Many towns and cities furthermore have their own refueling station for this vehicles. Transferring a percentage of these cars and trucks to alternative fuels and beginning the process of building the infrastructure to refuel them has enormous benefits to both the environment and the communities.
One of the greatest challenge of alternative fuel vehicles is there are few places to get the right fuel and frequently there is no standardized fueling method. When government begins the process in tandem with industry standards are easier to set and the foundation is laid for private car-owners to follow. Such progress is even more reassuring when fewer vehicles need to be owned, as in DC. Clearly this is a savings for the taxpayer, but is also a savings for congestion and fuel usage as well. Lower congestion and better fuel usage are two pillars of cleaner, more efficient transportation. Public transportation represents a large part of the solution, but certain vehicles will never be eliminated. Making those vehicles better is a step forward.