Improving the operations of a single fleet is one thing; doing it for a series of disparate fleets under municipal budget considerations is quite another. That’s why a central management team in New York City meets regularly to share expertise and coordinate best practices and strategies. “We’re working hard on a coordinated effort for the management of our fleet,” says Keith Kerman, chief fleet management officer in New York City. “Moving forward on several fronts, we’re sharing ideas and implementing the best processes and practices we have in place throughout the city’s agency fleets.”

The New York City fleet includes 27,000 vehicles operated by 60 city agencies. Over 23,000 of those units are fielded by seven agencies, known collectively as the fleet federation, including the Dept. of Sanitation, Dept. of Transportation (DOT), Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP), Dept. of Parks & Recreation, Dept. of Correction, New York Police Dept., and New York Fire Dept. The management arm for the entire city fleet, including the other agency fleets, is NYC Fleet at the Dept. of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS).

“Historically, the client 53 agency fleets under DCAS had one management program, but the major fleet federation agencies employed their own practices,” relates Kerman. “Not only was there duplication of effort in some areas, we weren’t taking advantage of the best practices employed by some agencies.”

One area of focus is a three-part program for reducing fuel use, a part of PlaNYC, the citywide environmental program that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2017.

“Based on success at the parks and sanitation departments,” Kerman explains, “we’re pilot-testing a biodiesel program for all agencies. In the last few months DOT, DEP and corrections have joined that effort, and next year we hope to add emergency services vehicles.”

Alternative fuel vehicle programs are also in place and being developed further. There are already over 5,000 hybrids in the NYC fleet, including cars, SUVs, and a growing number of Kenworth medium-duty trucks with Eaton diesel– electric systems. Additionally, the city has 100 Chevrolet Volts in service, and is finalizing contracts for electric Ford Focus and Nissan Leaf vehicles.

The management of resources is also dependent on the third part of the city fleet’s strategy, a comprehensive fuel use tracking and accountability initiative. Using systems from San Antonio, TXbased E.J. Ward at 70 in-house fueling facilities, the fleet’s managers are monitoring usage patterns and analyzing data that it shares with city agencies in discussions about fuel use reduction targets and how to effectively deploy vehicles.

According to Kerman, a related initiative is a new car share program. Following a two-year pilot program at DOT, the city has contracted with Cambridge, MA-based Zipcar to implement citywide availability of the company’s on-demand vehicle system, and is looking into other similar opportunities as well.

“Pooling and sharing vehicles within agency fleets is helping reduce the size of our non-emergency vehicle roster without impacting services,” Kerman says. “Longer term, we envision having some vehicles assigned to fleets in general rather than individual agencies.”

Procurement is another area of focus for the NYC fleet. Annually, NYC contracts $220 million in vehicle purchases, $100 million in parts and service, and another $100 million in fuel.

“Agencies have common needs but have historically had separate specification, bid and contract processes,” says Kerman. “Through the contributions of vehicle, maintenance and operations experts from across the city, we are maximizing opportunities for improvement and developing programs that benefit everyone.”