August 25, 2009 By Wayne Hanson
Ten BMW Mini E electric vehicles (pictured) will be tested by the Parks Department and in the city's Scout Program.
Saying that he wants to make New York City a capital of alternative fueled vehicles, Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday announced several initiatives -- from the city's PlaNYC -- to accelerate toward that goal. PlaNYC's aim is to reduce municipal government carbon emissions 30 percent by 2017 and the city's carbon emissions 30 percent by the year 2030. While the plan seeks to reduce the use of cars by improving public transit, Bloomberg said that cars will always be a part of the city, and so New York is leading the nation with the largest municipal fleet of alternative fuel vehicle, with about 3,300 hybrids -- from police cars to Parks Department vehicles.
The city's taxis, said Bloomberg, are nearly 20 percent hybrid, even though a federal judge overturned the city's hybrid taxi mandate. In addition, said Bloomberg in yesterday's press conference, the city will be employing hybrid sanitation trucks.
The city also has a partnership with BMW to field test 10 BMW Mini-E vehicles. Two will be used by the Parks Department, and eight will be used in the city's scout program in which employees cover every city street each month, spotting graffiti, potholes and other quality of life situations.
On Labor Day, the city will also begin testing three hybrid trash collection trucks, said Bloomberg, that are expected to get 30 percent better fuel mileage. Even though the hybrid trucks cost "a lot" said the mayor, fuel savings should quickly cover the added costs, and as they become more prevalent in city fleets, the costs should come down as well.
Finally, said Bloomberg, the city has commissioned a study of driving and parking patterns to prepare for increased use of hybrid and electric vehicles.