Hybrids hit the cities

Hybrids hit the cities

SmartTransportation, a nation-wide non-profit begun in 2005, believes hybrid use will reduce the environmental impact of congestion and help speed up deliveries

One of the most common complaints people have is that there simply are not enough hours in the day. For truckers, time is incredibly important, and if they spend too much on one delivery, the consequences are far-reaching.

Traffic in and out of major cities causes deliveries to be late. And it also causes vehicles to be on the roads longer, adding to emissions. SmartTransportation, a nation-wide non-profit begun in 2005, believes hybrid use will reduce the environmental impact of congestion and help speed up deliveries.

The New York City Parks Department has long been a big proponent of green technology. On top of that, the city previously has declared that its fleet of yellow cabs would convert to hybrid power by 2012.

SmartTransportation has worked heavily with the New York City Council and the Office of Mayor Bloomberg to get the city’s fleets to think about ways to be more energy- efficient. Bloomberg announced a proposal this week to improve the fuel efficiency of the city’s ‘black cars,’ sedan limousines that spend significant amounts of time idling in front of clients’ buildings. The proposal will be voted on April 10.

"Between yellow taxis and black cars, more than 23,000 TLC [Taxi & Limousine Commission] regulated cars will be required to be more efficient,” Mayor Bloomberg said. “This will allow us to achieve substantial emissions reductions for our city--and keep us moving towards our long-term goal of creating a truly sustainable city."

According to Jack Hidary, chair of SmartTransportation.org, hybrid town cars and yellow cabs save drivers up to $10,000 per year in fuel and other costs. New York City, which has the largest fleet of service cars in the nation, currently owns about 3,000 hybrids. Hidary told FleetOwner that SmartTransportation is currently in talks with other cities to put more hybrids into their fleets.

“Engines are the least efficient and produce the most pollution when they’re idling, but hybrids do not have that problem,” Hidary said. “A lot of people don’t realize the connection between health and the air we breathe.”

A big debate in New York City right now is over congestion pricing. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority voted last Wednesday to submit a $29.5 billion spending plan over five years, including $4.5 billion in revenue from congestion pricing, which would charge motorists $8 to drive below 60th St. in Manhattan during peak hours.

The plan must be approved by March 31st or the city will risk losing $354.5 million in federal funding for mass transit. Hidary encourages fleets to learn more about the program and get their voices heard about congestion pricing, because they can use it to their advantage, he said.

“Truckers complain about the delays coming in and out of the city, and we want to work with truckers, fleets, and the cities to reduce that congestion,” Hidary said.

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