Aging City Fleets a Sign of Budget Issues

Aug 23, 2010

The city of Omaha, Nebraska still operates a 1988 Kenworth truck as a part of its municipal fleet.  The old vehicle is a reminder of how cities under budget constraints must deal with their situation.

The truck has 774,000 miles on it, and it's still part of regular operations, according to the Omaha World Herald. It is used to haul sewage, and because it is used almost entirely on the highway, high mileage has not been a major problem. The city hopes to break a million miles with the old workhorse, according to Omaha equipment services manager Marc McCoy.

Although delaying fleet purchases is an easy way to save money, repair costs also go up as vehicles age. The older fleet also takes more gasoline and oil than newer vehicles, McCoy said.

The city spent $64 million repairing its fleet and other equipment from 2002 through 2008.

Even small repairs can require significant downtime, said McCoy. When wiring goes bad, his team can spend weeks looking for the faulty line.  Repairs for the city's park fleet can be tricky because several tractors have been around since the 1960s. In many cases, the parts don't exist any more, so city mechanics try to make their own in the welding shop.

The age of a fleet can also present a public safety issue. In the past three months, one of the city's Crown Victoria police cruisers with 175,000 miles on it has been in the shop five times. The $3,500 in repairs is more than half the car's Blue Book value and has caused a valuable service vehicle to be off the streets, and away from its duties.

If your fleet is facing budgetary issues, saving money shouldn’t come at the expense of safety or other operations.  We suggest saving some money with a fleet card.

Photo courtesy of John Lloyd and re-used under the Creative Commons license.