Cars

New Britain Mayor Works To Downshift Size Of City Fleet Of Cars And Trucks

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The city has put its fleet of municipal cars and trucks on a diet.

Last year, New Britain got rid of about 30 municipal vehicles as part of a comprehensive plan to reduce expenses.

The city declared many of its oldest vehicles in the public works department and the police force as surplus and got rid of them.

All municipal agencies still have enough cars and trucks to get their work done, according to Mayor Erin Stewart’s office, but the city is pushing department heads to reduce unnecessary driving and fuel use.

Stewart announced in February of 2016 that she wanted to cut the municipal fleet by 5 percent. At that time, New Britain had 384 cars, vans and pickup trucks, along with 108 pieces of large equipment such as dump trucks.

By this winter, that figure was down to 354, a roughly 8 percent reduction, Stewart announced this week.

“Our city’s fleet is one of our costliest assets that we have to manage,” Stewart said in a statement.

“Maximizing fuel efficiency, minimizing fuel consumption, maximizing vehicle and equipment life cycles, and reducing the overall size of the fleet add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings each year,” she said.

In the past year, the city’s fuel bill for its fleet has dropped by $184,000. It typically spends about $700,000 a year on gas and diesel.

The city has implemented rules to reduce unnecessary vehicle idling, and is encouraging workers to plan trips as efficiently as possible.

The public works department employs more than a half-dozen mechanics at its Harvard Street yard to keep the fleet rolling, but the city went nearly a decade without a fleet manager.

Sam Plumley was put in that job in January 2016, and has been overhauling the system for scheduled maintenance and repairs. The city is trying to devise a schedule that will let it keep utility trucks and cars for 12 to 15 years, while replacing front-line police patrol cars every four to six years.

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