Arizona lawmakers want to find out whether every employee who has a state-issued car actually needs one. Or, more to the point, what’s wrong with getting a ride from Uber?
State senators are on the verge of approving legislation that would require every state agency to go through its records and determine whether they really need as many vehicles as they have. The goal, according to Rep. Jeff Weninger, R-Chandler, is to cut the size of the fleet by 10 percent.
That would be a significant dent, with the most recent report showing the state owning more than 10,500 vehicles. And that doesn’t count an additional 1,200 operated by the state’s three universities.
Weninger said it’s more than about the state’s having to buy expensive new cars and trucks when the old ones wear out. He said there’s also the cost of operating them.
Overall, the state Department of Administration, which manages the fleet, reports the average vehicle eats up $1,266 in fuel each year. And there’s an additional $819 in maintenance.
HB 2440 does more than set the goal of a 10 percent fleet reduction. It requires the Department of Administration to make an effort to reduce the use of state-owned vehicle by finding other ways to get people around. That includes not just renting vehicles as needed but also using ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft.
Weninger said the goal is achievable, citing his own experience on the Chandler City Council.
“When the recession hit, we looked at our fleet,” he said. “We found a lot of vehicles that were severely underutilized.”
For example, Weninger said there were city employees who were assigned their own vehicles.
“They drove two times a week for three hours each day,” he explained. “But they had their own car.”
The result, he said, was revamping the system so that those who needed to go somewhere would check out a car on an as-needed basis. But he said there were no instances where someone who needed a vehicle did not have access to one.
Weninger said he remains convinced the study his legislation mandates will come to the same conclusion.
“Overall, I’m convinced that we have too many vehicles and we could get by with less,” he said.
Weninger said his next target will be the amount of heavy equipment owned by not just the state but also local governments.
“Why does Mesa need to buy a $300,000 or $500,000 earth mover and Chandler buys one and Tempe buys one, and they all use them 20 or 30 days a year?” he asked. “It just seems insane to me.”