The day after Halloween some homeowners are sure to think the city is playing tricks on them when sanitation and recycling trucks show up four days early. Yet others across town are going to be …
The day after Halloween some homeowners are sure to think the city is playing tricks on them when sanitation and recycling trucks show up four days early. Yet others across town are going to be questioning what happened to their Tuesday pickups.
This week, Mayor Frank Picozzi announced a switch between the Tuesday and Friday collection days starting Nov. 1. The trade in collection days is aimed at reducing overtime and improving overall system efficiency.
Distances are at the core of the savings.
As it has been for years, Tuesday collections cover a centrally located area with some trucks making collections within two minutes of leaving the city yard, Department of Public Works director Eric Earls said Tuesday. Friday collection routes that cover Cowesett, Potowomut and extend as far north as the Cranston line, however, can take more than 15 minutes to reach. The current Friday route covers about a third of the city territorially. Each of the five routes has approximately 7,000 stops, but crews must cover greater distances to make collections in Cowesett and Potowomut.
Earls speculates when first designed, collections times in Cowesett and Potowomut were comparable to other parts of the city as fewer stops made up for the additional drive time. With development, that changed.
Under normal circumstances and with a full compliment of 14 trucks – seven for garbage and seven for recycling – things run smoothly and collections are completed by the end of the work day. But not much has been “normal” for collections during the Picozzi administration. Aged collection trucks perpetually break down sometimes delaying collections by a day. The delivery of new trucks in some cases were as much as two years away – in fact, two new trucks should be on the road shortly. Because of the shortage of trucks some collections weren’t made until after 9 p.m. Conditions have improved but it’s rare that a full fleet of 14 trucks is ready to take on a route.
Such delays have a compound effect. Because the landfill closes at 3:30 p.m. on weekdays and 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, crews completing routes after closure return full trucks to the city yard. They then must be driven to the landfill the following day, thereby delaying collections for that day.
By making collections on the longest route on Tuesday instead of Friday, there’s the chance for making up time by the end of the week. This also helps when there is a Monday holiday and the entire schedule gets bumped by a day. Saturday collections would then be on a compact route close to the city yard instead of across the city.
By the time in the switch, Earls expects the fleet to be outfitted with GPS. The system will display where trucks are in real time. As an example of how that will improve efficiency, Earls said when a truck has to leave a route because it is full, the driver will know exactly where to return or for another truck to start collections. The system will also record “hard stops” and excessive speed.
“It’s more about being more efficient,” he said.
Mayor Frank Picozzi recalled his brother David looking into a GPS system when he was the DPW director, but dismissed it as too expensive. The system being provided by Verizon will cost $18.95 per month per truck. Picozzi suggests the GPS system could also be used for plow routes.
The administration plans an extensive information campaign to get out the word on the switch in collection days including robo calls, door hangers and stickers for sanitation and recycling carts. Picozzi will be sure to also use social media.