New Seattle fleet initiative calls for route optimization software

Municipalities across the country are taking the initiative to reduce fleet costs and curb the number of miles driven. Seattle is the most recent city to do so, with Mayor Mike McGinn calling for a greener fleet in the coming years.

McGinn recently announced a "Million Gallon Challenge," which aims to cut the city's fleet fuel use by that amount by 2020, a 42 percent reduction from what it already uses. This will serve to not only limit costs, but also enhance the green initiatives the city has launched in recent years. Seattle officials have implemented a plan that will focus on four key areas to limit the city's reliance on gas- and diesel-powered vehicles.

"Reducing consumption of petroleum-based fuels is good for the climate and good for the economy," McGinn​ said. "By ramping up demand on the government side we can help support businesses that are interested in innovating sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based fuels. I encourage my colleagues across the region and country to take similar actions."

Four basic strategies will help the city achieve its goal
One of the major points of the plan calls for additional investments in alternative fuel vehicles. By purchasing hybrid, electric and biofuel-powered trucks, vans and passenger vehicles, city officials hope to lessen pollution and limit gas use.

To support the increased use of these cars, plans are underway to improve regional infrastructure. Additional fueling and charging stations will be installed to help government employees refill or charge fleet vehicles.

Increasing availability of a biodiesel blend is another of Seattle's goals in an attempt to save fuel. A special blend made with waste vegetable oil will be readily available at several main fueling stations.

The final area of focus in the "Million Gallon Challenge" includes implementing route planning software. According to the plan, using advanced vehicle technology will work to ensure drivers are taking the most effective routes, reducing excessive idling and identifying the best speeds to achieve optimal gas mileage. The move would save the city employees time, and slash fuel expenses.

Seattle isn't the first major city to implement such plans to trim fuel costs in light of budget constraints and environmental concerns, and it certainly won't be the last. While many local governments may not be able to justify the cost of a brand new, sustainably powered fleet, plenty may be willing to try out vehicle routing software to help them optimize routes, saving time and decreasing fuel use.