Fleet managers face a variety of demands from drivers, council members and taxpayers. It is no easy feat to meet them all. Technology is proving helpful in the endeavor though, monitoring vehicle usage, driving habits and more. Our cover article, which profiles Seattle’s Sound Transit, is a great testament to this. It used fleet tracking software to eliminate 115 underused vehicles from its non-revenue fleet. It is mind-blowing so many vehicles could be removed while having no major impact on operations. To top it off, Sound Transit is saving more than $2 million since it launched its initiative in 2013.
For other city fleets, leasing vehicles has become a major reduction of stress and money spent. Writer Nicholette Carlson spoke with two officials in Illinois cities who have seen savings by leasing their fleet vehicles. For Rockford, Ill., leasing opened a pathway toward combatting a backlog of vehicles that needed replaced. Since older vehicles were being replaced in a timely manner, employees felt safer as they knew the piece of equipment they were working with was reliable.
Money is always a major constraint for municipal fleet operations, especially when it comes to replacing vehicles. And while private fleets are structured differently and often have more funds available, there are still plenty of lessons to be gleaned from that sector by public fleets. Writer Andrew Mentock spoke with Steve Saltzgiver, a member of NAFA’s board of directors and a fleet consultant for Mercury Associates, on the subject, and he was glad to share his observations having worked in both sectors. Set goals and objectives, while also factoring in metrics, is a major take away.
While setting those goals and objectives, we are also encouraging municipal fleets to examine their preparedness. 2018 saw numerous natural disasters from hurricanes to the massive wildfires experienced in California. While not necessarily on such a massive scale, many cities find their operations impacted by flooding and snowstorms. Fleets need to be prepared for such circumstances. Writer Denise Fedorow checked in with Ventura, Calif., where its interim public works director, Mary Joyce Ivers, shared what it was like to keep its fleet of 406 operating during the 2017 Thomas Fire.
The scale of this wildfire saw the fleet consume 20,000 gallons of fuel within the first week. For scale, this amount of fuel is what the city usually uses in a month. Ensuring fuel is secured and practicing regular maintenance on equipment were invaluable for ensuring vehicles could perform the tasks given to them over the course of the event.
Using technology, best practices and having plans in place should the worst happen will reduce stress in the long term while also creating a well-rounded fleet. Life isn’t perfect but clear goals and plans can bridge uncertainties.