By Brian Fraga
Standard-Times Staff Writer
NEW BEDFORD — They are so quiet, a police officer riding one can almost sneak up on someone.
A steady, quiet hum was the only sound heard Monday as police Sgt. Jill Simmons and Officer Christian Gomes rode the Police Department’s two new electric scooters around Pleasant Street.
City and police officials touted the Vectrix, an emission-free scooter manufactured in the New Bedford Industrial Park, as emblematic of a new environmentally conscious age.
“This is the new New Bedford Police Department,” police spokesman Lt. Jeffrey P. Silva said during a press conference outside the downtown police station.
Although the vehicles have been in service for almost two weeks, Monday marked the official unveiling for the two Vectrix scooters and the new fleet of 23 “green” E85 flex-fuel cruisers, which can run on regular gas or fuels with higher concentrations of ethanol.
But for at least the near future, police officers will have to fuel their new cruisers with regular gasoline because there is no local flex-fuel depot. Mayor Scott W. Lang said the city is in discussions with the state to institute a greener fuels depot at City Yard.
“We would create the Southeastern Massachusetts Regional Fuel Depot, which could be then used by the municipalities and the utility companies,” said Mayor Lang, who insisted the depot would be completed “within months rather than years.”
The Police Department spent more than $30,000 on each cruiser to replace an older fleet in which several vehicles had more than 100,000 miles’ worth of wear and tear.
The new cruisers have the same lighting, gearing and braking capabilities as the regular vehicles. The decals and sticker designs are different, with more reflective signs along the vehicles’ sides.
Meanwhile, the fully-electric Vectrix scooters will be used primarily by community police officers and the Port Security Team headed by Sgt. Simmons. Uniformed officers will be allowed to ride the scooters during patrols.
“This is a highly stylized scooter, a vehicle for the 21st century,” Mayor Lang said.
The Vectrix scooters have a top speed of about 62 mph. They can run from 30 to 55 miles on a single charge. The power cord is stored under the seat and connects to a regular 110-volt electric outlet.
The scooters cost around $10,000 each to purchase outright. The city is leasing the scooters for $1 a year for two years, a cost-effective arrangement that provides some exposure for Vectrix, a growing company based in Middletown, R.I., with an engineering plant in New Bedford.
“These scooters have great potential,” Chief Teachman said. “They’re also an excellent commuter vehicle for the general public.”
Contact Brian Fraga at firstname.lastname@example.org
July 29, 2008
Source URL: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080729/NEWS/807290347
By Brian Fraga