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City fleet is too big, needs more fuel-efficient cars: Emanuel

Chicago mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel discuss's his plan create more energy efficient city automobile fleet  Hollub Heating. 1041 W.

Chicago mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel discuss's his plan to create a more energy efficient city automobile fleet at Hollub Heating. 1041 W. Jackson, on Tuesday. | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

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Updated: April 26, 2011 4:45AM

Chicago has too many government vehicles and the city fleet gobbles up too much fuel, Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday.

If he’s elected mayor, Emanuel vowed to save at least $5 million during his first year in office by purchasing more fuel-efficient vehicles and encouraging city employees to share cars, take bicycles and use mass transit.

“You don’t mandate it, but you manage from the top with a direction that all the employees would follow,” Emanuel told reporters at Hollub Heating, a company at 1041 W. Jackson that has converted its fleet to trucks that burn natural gas.

“I used to take the Brown Line from my home … when I was working downtown. I used to take the Blue Line in from the airport . . . when I was going to . . . and from Washington. I plan, as mayor, to continue periodically to take mass transit. I also will walk. I’m a big biker, too. You have to do it by example.”

Chicago taxpayers spend $135 million each year to maintain and fuel the city’s non-emergency fleet.

Over the years, Mayor Daley has reined in the number of take-home vehicles in favor of a system that requires more than 100 city managers to share leasing, insurance and maintenance costs and pay for their own fuel.

Emanuel said he would go even further to reduce the city’s costs.

He would start in his first 120 days in office by ordering an inventory of vehicles to determine the age and fuel efficiency of all non-emergency vehicles. That would be followed by doubling — to 20 percent in 2011 — the annual switch to hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles.

Emanuel said he would also reduce work-related trips and miles traveled by city employees by 10 percent within his first two years in office. Ten percent of those trips would switch to car-sharing, bikes and mass transit, he said.

City employees would also undergo mandatory training in energy-efficient driving during Emanuel’s first year in office, much of it online.

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