Already widely hailed as one of the nation's greenest trucking operations, the multifaceted vocational fleet operated by the New York City Parks & Recreations Dept. (NYC Parks) is headed to still greener pastures, according to Assistant Commissioner Keith Kerman.

Speaking to Fleet Owner after NYC Parks was presented with the Fleet Owner 2008 Vocational Fleet of the Year Award at the agency's annual fleet show last week, Kerman explained that there are three fresh green-truck initiatives under way for the trendsetting department.

"The first program is to continue our field studies of B50 biodiesel blend as an alternative fuel," Kerman said. "We're again using vehicles in our [summer] beach maintenance fleet to judge B50 vs. B20 in actual operation. The idea is to see how the engines are affected – or not--by the higher blend without having to factor in whether there is a cold-weather impact [on the engines].

"Secondly, we're moving toward [adopting] what we see becoming the medium-duty [vocational] truck of the future," he continued. "It's a three-in-one solution--a vehicle with a hybrid drive that is fueled by bioidiesel and equipped with a Diesel Particulate Filter to make it compliant with 2010 Federal EPA rules. Taking these three technologies together we feel is the key solution for making work trucks greener moving forward--at least until some other technology comes along."

Kerman pointed out that one of NYC Parks' sister agencies--and one that operates a substantial vocational truck fleet -- the Dept. of Sanitation -- "also sees value in this approach. And it's all in keeping with the target set by [New York City] Mayor Michael Bloomberg to achieve a 15% carbon reduction in 15 years [from city vehicles]."

According to Kerman, the third initiative for NYC Parks is to change its full-size pickup truck spec to call for diesel only--which right now means the agency will only be buying those trucks from General Motors. Speaking of GM, Kerman noted that he'd "love the chance to test out the [all-electric] Chevy Volt in passenger-car service here."