We are going through a period of rapid change in this industry, where old polluting technologies are being replaced by newer, cleaner, and more sustainable means of propulsion. While this is a good thing, no one can deny that these new technologies bring them with a whole new set of challenges.
With this in mind, I was invited to lead a panel discussion at Impulsion Montreal in Canada this summer between senior fleet officials from the cities of Vancouver, Ottawa, and Los Angeles. When I asked about the main challenges facing the fleet departments of these cities, they were unanimous in pointing to a lack of funding. Even so, I heard about how LA and Vancouver developed innovative strategies and looked for funds wherever they could to drive forward advanced electrification programmes for municipal fleets. In Ottawa, faced with heavy winters that rule out electrification as an option, the city instead created efficiencies by implementing advanced data and asset management systems.
The experiences of these diverse municipalities underline the fact that the road to zero carbon emissions will not be the same for everyone, that any solution should be fit for your purpose, and your urban or rural environment, and that it will depend on a whole range of factors including local climate, population demographics, geography, the legal system, and your organisational culture.
Just one week after this illuminating discussion, I was again sat around a table with industry leaders, this time at the SOE headquarters in London with representatives from Biffa, Veolia, Keir, and several local UK councils. Lack of funding was once again highlighted as a main challenge, and one that has a direct impact on the ability of fleet officials to attract new drivers and mechanics into the sector. We all agreed that municipal fleet has a major image problem and that something needs to be done to promote its very real benefits as a profession. That's why we will address this issue during the big debate at Future Fleet Forum at the Guildhall, London, on January 22, 2020. If you would like to take part, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ann-Marie Knegt, Editor LAPV