One of FairPoint Communications' fleet vehicles.

One of FairPoint Communications' fleet vehicles.

SOUTH BURLINGTON, VT – FairPoint Communications, a provider of broadband Internet, phone, television, and other high-capacity data services, successfully reduced its fleet fuel use and emissions by implementing an anti-idling program. The company partnered with the American Lung Association to hold presentations at its company garages, successfully reducing idle time for 1,232 vehicles in its fleet in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont by 42% during the first four months of 2012.

Automotive Fleet spoke with Sabina Haskell, a spokesperson for the company, about their program, fleet, and the results that FairPoint achieved. Haskell said FairPoint operates a diverse fleet, from light-duty to medium, heavy-duty, and off-road vehicles. Light-duty vehicles include sedans, pickup trucks, SUVs, and minivans, Medium-duty vehicles include SCS, service vehicles, vans, and van buckets, and on the heavy-duty side, fleet vehicles include logistics vehicles, semis with flatbed trailers, bucket trucks, placers, and diggers. Off-road equipment and vehicles include ATVs, Snow Cats, and forklifts. Haskell explained that the company uses the vehicles for day-to-day operations to service customers and support internal operations.

FairPoint focused on multiple approaches to reducing idling time for its fleet vehicles, beyond the presentations it held with the American Lung Association.

“FairPoint monitors idle time at the vehicle level,” Haskell said. “All vehicles are assigned to an employee. We track fuel and vehicle utilization to attempt to match the right vehicle for the right job. Additionally, we use GPS to obtain more operational efficiencies in order to cut down on customer wait times and utilize the vehicles more cost efficiently. Most field technicians are notified of their idle time on a monthly basis.”

These efforts have paid off, resulting in major savings and significant reduction in fuel use.

“In the first quarter of 2011, we had approximately 1,342 vehicles using an average of 80 gallons of fuel idling for an expense of roughly $412,000,” Haskell said. “In first quarter of 2012, we had about 1,249 vehicles using an average of 51 gallons of fuel idling for a cost of roughly $244,000, based on $3.84 per gallon.”

Although the idle-reduction program has paid off, FairPoint has been rigorously working to right-size its fleet, according to Haskell. She said FairPoint has removed 400 older vehicles from its fleet as part of this process. In order to keep fleet downtime to a minimum, FairPoint uses a preventive maintenance program and has its automotive mechanics work during operational off-hours. The company is also replacing older vehicles with newer, more fuel-efficient models, wherever possible.

“We purchase newer vehicles that use green hydraulic systems (i.e. Terrasolve) and better fuel efficiency, which in turn reduces carbon emissions,” she said. “We have tested hybrid vehicles to review cost savings and reduction of emissions.”

Overall, FairPoint’s ongoing effort is saving money, reducing emissions, and strengthening the company’s relations with the communities it operates its fleet in across the northeast.

"FairPoint has made a concerted effort across northern New England to reduce idling; it's the right thing to do for public health and to be a more energy-efficient company," said Karen Mead, senior vice president of operations and engineering. "This is a significant step toward reducing our carbon footprint in the region."

By Greg Basich

Updated: 8/10/2012, corrected the period over which fuel savings were measured.