Nationally recognized as one of the country's greenest fleets, the New York City Parks Dept. held its 20th annual truck and equipment show May 30, offering other city agencies and local municipal fleets an opportunity to see production-ready hybrid trucks, natural gas refuse collection vehicles, small plug-in utility pickups, and other new developments in green fleet technology.
“The Parks Dept. is ‘New York's Greenest’ — from the vehicles we use to the trees we plant,” said Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “The Fleet Show has been where it all started, from building relationships with companies that pilot alternative fuel to exposing the city to the most recent and innovative vehicle technologies. We hope it helps our sister [NYC] agencies and all New York area [government fleets] learn about new developments and products.”
With a total of 2,400 vehicles, the Parks Dept. fleet currently runs all of its 800 diesel-powered trucks on B20 biodiesel and is about to launch a 50-truck pilot test using B50, according to Keith Kerman, the Parks chief of operations. “I can see us moving to an all B50 fleet, just using B20 in the winter months,” he told Fleet Owner.
The department is also a major user of compressed natural gas, having just opened a new CNG refueling station in New York City's Central Park and refurbishing a 15-year-old one at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the former World's Fair grounds and the site of this year's truck show. “We have 100 CNG vehicles, including three new street sweepers,” Kerman said. It also has over 500 hybrid vehicles in the fleet, “but we're still looking for a viable hybrid or alternative fuel [full-size] pickup,” he added.
Bookended by the iconic World's Fair Unisphere on one side and the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, home of the U.S. Open, on the other, 120 vendors showed up for the 20th Parks Dept. vehicle show, the first to be held at the old World's Fair grounds and the largest turnout to date, according to Kerman.
Among the notable exhibits was a pair of Kenworth medium-duty diesel-electric hybrids, one painted in the colors of a new area refuse hauling fleet and undergoing field tests. “It's a prototype truck, but we're getting the first ten off of the production line when they start building them in August,” said Greg Murjani, CEO of Mr. Rubbish, a new residential refuse service starting in Brooklyn, NY, which he hopes will be a national franchise operation.
The hybrid trucks are an important part of the new company's creation of a green image, according to Murjani. “Our goal is to recycle 80% of the household refuse we collect, and hybrid trucks are part of being a green company,” he said, pointing to a new refuse container body built for Mr. Rubbish that includes compartments for segregating various types of recyclables and converts from 10-yd. capacity to 20-yd. “Even our hydraulic oil is biodegradable,” he added.
Other truckmakers represented with hybrids or alternative-fuel vehicles included GM, with a variety of light truck hybrids and a fuel-cell SUV; International, with a medium-duty hybrid; Autocar, with a CNG-powered refuse packer; and Mack Trucks, with a CNG-powered utility truck.
Despite the Parks Dept.'s list of green-fleet achievements, “we still think of ourselves as only at the beginning,” Kerman told Fleet Owner. “We want to keep the momentum going and stay on the forefront of testing and proving green technologies. We can't invest in developing [green technologies], but we can provide a high profile to prove that they work.”