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Friday’s Headlines: Fleet Week Edition

Some good news about the city fleet. Plus other news from a busy day.

File photo

First, the good news: The city is ahead of its goals for electrifying the mammoth city fleet.

As I learned yesterday at the city's annual "Fleet and Equipment Show" (aka "Boys and their Toys"), the city now has 5,000 plug-in electric vehicles, which is far ahead of the goal, set in 2015, of having 2,000 EVs in the 30,000-plus fleet by 2025.

And 56 percent of the city’s annual diesel use has been replaced by what's called "hydrogenation derived renewable diesel," which (checks notes) is produced by refining fats or vegetable oils in a hydrotreating process.

As a result, said Department of Citywide Administrative Services Commissioner Dawn Pinnock, the city is on track to meet the ambitious goal of the Clean Fleet Plan of 2015 to reduce fleet greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2035.

But Streetsblog cares about more than just the pollution coming from the gargantuan city fleet, so we chatted up Pinnock's key deputy commissioner, Keith Kernan, the DCAS fleet guy. He dropped lots of news:

  • Under Mayor Adams, the city has reduced its fleet of "take-home cars" — i.e. city vehicles that high-level officials use for commuting — by 500, though the number is still well north of 2,000 privileged workers.
  • DCAS has asked all of the city's 50 agencies to start filling out the detailed paperwork necessary if they want to get an exemption to the congestion toll. But he promised that the city wants to support "the goal of congestion pricing" and won't file frivolous exemption applications. As Dave Colon showed earlier this week, there are ways to construe the exemption definitions broadly or narrowly. We might have mentioned to Kernan to construe them narrowly, but he promised that his agency is analyzing ways to reduce driving rather than seeking more exemptions. "We will either change our [driving] behavior or pay the toll," he said.
  • Lastly, he said he's pushing truck makers to sell their safer European models in the United States:

"I went to London, where they have a 'direct vision' standard on trucks, and I'm looking around for a conventional truck and I can't find one," Kernan said. "So we know these trucks exist, but they're not available here. ... We need to signal to the marketplace that when you build a truck in Europe and it's high vision, if you sell the same truck here, we'll buy it. We know they work."

Here's an example of our typical truck:

Bad news for pedestrians.Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Here's a truck Kernan says he'd like to buy more of:

Safety first.

In other news:

  • Speaking of dangerous trucks, a private sanitation truck driver backed over a man on Cornelia Street in the West Village early on Thursday. (Village Sun)
  • Did you hear that there are lawsuits over congestion pricing? The Times just figured it out. But, seriously, the Paper of Record did readers a disservice by not even questioning the owner of Wall Street Grill when he alleged that "most of his customers" drive to the restaurant on Pearl Street. Can we see those receipts?
  • Speaking of congestion pricing, Queens lawmakers want more transit service before it starts, the Post reported. That's fine, but why doesn't Albany start by spending the existing Outer Borough Transit Account, as Dave Colon reported previously?
  • NYC Transit President Rich Davey put out a weak statement that did little to dispel rumors that he's leaving to run Massachusetts' big port agency. (NYDN, amNY, Hell Gate)
  • This is literally no way to run a railroad: Amtrak, which suspended service between Albany and Montreal for years during the pandemic is shutting down the route for two months to do trackwork that could have been done years ago when no one was riding. (Adirondack Daily Enterprise)
  • And this is no way to run a bus system either. (The City)
  • The CLIP e-bike attachment is getting good press. (Crain's)
  • Today is "Bike to Work" day. In other words, every day. (QNS)
  • Check out the new pizza box garbage can! (NY Post, NY Times)
  • The Bronx Times covered the city's effort to get Albany to reauthorize and expand our red light camera program.
  • Fine, we don't want your stinkin' tax break. (Gothamist)
  • Federal DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg highlighted the admirable advocacy work of Amy Cohen with a tweet the other day:

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