"I want to thank everyone for being here today. I don’t get very many "firsts" in life anymore; but today I've just completed another first for me - the driving of an all-electric vehicle. It's amazing to be standing here in front of Main Street Station - an historic railroad station originally built in 1901 - and today one can drive up in an all-electric powered vehicle. Main Street Station is a focal point for much of the city's multi-modal transportation efforts; like bus rapid transit, the capital trail and our strategic multi-modal transportation plan. So, it is fitting that we gather you all at this site today as we look into the future.
"I'm pleased to announce the city of Richmond's plans to conduct a test pilot of electric vehicles in our city fleet. We plan to purchase and test up to four all-electric vehicles in our city motor pool fleet. And if the pilot is successful, we may replace as many as 40 vehicles with all-electric vehicles as the fleet vehicles are scheduled for replacement over the coming years.
"Today's test drive involves the Ford Transit Connect Electric demo vehicle, manufactured in conjunction with Azure Dynamics. Ford has chosen Richmond as one of 14 city stops that are part of the 'Charging into the Future Electric Vehicle Tour.' I want to thank Ford for selecting Richmond as part of the tour and I want to thank Azure Dynamics for bringing the vehicle to Richmond. I hope you all will test drive the vehicle while they are here in our city for this effort.
"For the city fleet, the vehicles we will be procuring will be passenger sedans. These types of electric vehicles are just starting to come to market. The city will have a competitive process for the vehicles that we will purchase, and the pilot project will depend largely on when the vehicles are available; however we anticipate mid to late next year.
"Electric vehicles are just one part of my overall sustainability strategy for the city of Richmond. Under the Green Richmond Initiative, we've implemented a number of efforts designed to help us operate more efficiently, reduce energy and fuel use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Earlier this week we accepted the Silver Green Government certification from the Virginia Municipal League. And we were recognized for several new environmental initiatives that reduce the carbon emissions within our government and within our community.
"In the transportation sector alone, we are transitioning the fleet of garbage trucks from diesel to compressed natural gas. We are reducing the number of trucks from 37 to 25 and not only will the trucks operate more efficiently, use less gas and save money, but the trucks will produce less carbon dioxide and other emissions. The city has long been encouraging alternative transportation to work and we offer free bus fare to employees that participate in the GRTC Rideshare Program. In addition, we are exploring opportunities for telecommuting and more carpooling as well as teleconferencing.
"An effort I'm particularly proud of involves the Bicycle, Pedestrian and Trails Planning Commission which I formed earlier this year to recommend specific measures to reduce vehicle miles traveled and make Richmond more bicycle and pedestrian friendly. Those final recommendations are on the way to me in the coming weeks.
"So, we've been busy, ladies and gentlemen, establishing our vision and moving forward with Building a Better Richmond and a Green Richmond. The city of Richmond is committed to sustainability and I want the residents of Richmond to enjoy an improved quality of life, a healthy environment and enhanced economic development and job creation opportunities. This pilot project and other sustainability efforts on behalf of the city are poised to help continue to move us toward becoming a Tier One city and we look forward to embracing the future with all of you."