City services hit hard by gas prices

Police vehicles, city buses, garbage trucks and the like all use fuel at an alarming rate. When gas prices are as high as they are they begin to put a serious damper on city budgets. In fact, out of 132 mayors surveyed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, ninety percent of them indicate that their city budgets have been significantly impacted by fuel prices. Mayor Douglas Palmer of Trenton, New Jersey says that tough choices are necessary, "Everything is on the table except for a reduction in public safety."

While the easy answer would be to stop driving so much, that's not always possible. For instance, what would happen if a city were to decide to pick up trash only once every two weeks. Not only would tax-paying residents be upset, but a certain number of workers would likely lose their jobs. What's more, as more residents choose to use public transportation, more fuel might consumed by the bus lines as more vehicles are added to the schedule.

According to a news report from Reuters, Seattle already uses Segways for its parking officers and Prius hybrids for its city workers. The city is now considering hybrid police vehicles, according to Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels. We're not sure what vehicles are being considered, but we do know that GM offers police-specific versions of its Tahoe SUV. Could the hybrid drivetrain prove useful in this application? We're not certain, but it appears that the days of the standard-issue Crown Vic could be coming to an end.

[Source: Reuters via Yahoo]

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