HOUSTON - On Oct. 13, Houston City Council approved a fleet consolidation plan to achieve $21.8 million in fleet savings. The plan includes the creation of a Fleet Management Department.

A fleet management consolidation update was presented to Houston City Council by CST Fleet Services in early October, outlining the steps needed to achieve the estimated savings.

The plan recommends a reduction of the city's 13,659-unit fleet; closure of about two-thirds of the city's 99 fueling facilities, most of which are low-use; and use of a strategic vehicle parts partnership (SVPP) for parts inventory.

The city's 29 maintenance facilities will be reduced to 11-15 facilities. Fleet support staff will be cut from 152 to 64, although the number of mechanics will remain at around 250. A second shift will be added to all facilities (currently, only six facilities have a second shift), allowing major vehicle maintenance to be done during this time and leaving working hours available for emergency service repairs. Two to three facilities may be targeted for a third shift. Work bays will decrease from 277 to 209, but second and third shifts will increase bay hours to 19,680, up from 15,400.

Take-home vehicle fees will be implemented or increased. Take-home vehicles number at 736 for municipal employees and 900 for police personnel, who pay $75 per pay period for personal use. Police fees may increase for take-home vehicles to $105 per pay period, and one of the options being considered is charging the same $105 fee to city personnel using take-home vehicles.

The six-phase plan is set for two years, to be completed by the end of FY 2012. The first phase has already started and includes the closure of 44 minimally-used fuel sites, in addition to other measures.

The hiring of a fleet manager for the new Fleet Management Department is still being finalized, according to the mayor's office.