PRIUS HELPS CITY PATROLS KEEP THE NOISE DOWN
Below 10mph the Toyota Prius is soundless – which makes this environmentally friendly car the ideal choice for Westminster City Council’s Charter Mark award-winning 24 Hour Noise Team.
Three of the petrol-electric hybrid vehicles are now in service with the high-profile council, helping team-members respond to complaints about disturbances and to carry out regular visits around central London.
Westminster became one of the first local authorities to use Prius when the cars joined its fleet last December. They were supplied through Toyota dealership McCarthy Sidcup on a five-year full-maintenance contract hire agreement with one of the council’s main contractors, leasing company London Hire.
The fuel-efficiency of most cars suffers markedly in urban areas, yet the opposite is the case with the Toyota Prius, which thrives on the sort of inner-city traffic conditions found in busy Westminster. The car is driven by a 1.5-litre VVT-i petrol engine, but a 30kW electric motor takes over at low speeds. This allows it to return more than 60mpg around town, and with the lowest CO2 emissions at only 114g/km, it easily meets the strictest European emission standards, which do not come into force until 2005.
“Prius is a good operational vehicle,” commented Westminster City Council’s Transport Manager Neil Donald. “The Noise Team was looking at conversions such as electric vehicles but we needed a proven ‘clean’ vehicle that was also practical and cost-effective.
“We looked around for something that would do the job and show that Westminster City Council is environmentally friendly.”
The Noise Team provides a rapid-response service for anyone being disturbed by loud music, parties, barking dogs, revving vehicles, faulty alarms or out-of-hours DIY or construction work. If the noise is a statutory nuisance, team-members can serve a notice requiring it to be stopped, and follow up with a prosecution if necessary.
The team responds to as many as 18,000 calls a year, and aims to contact the complainant within 45 minutes. It also tackles noise problems before they occur, by checking known ‘hotspots’ for unreasonable disturbance levels and by visiting and advising those who run entertainment and commercial premises and special events.
Westminster City Council places considerable emphasis on green issues:
“We have an environmental plan that covers all the fleet and it has to fit our users’ requirements,” commented Neil Donald. “The Toyota Prius is an ideal vehicle for the Noise Team because it is so quiet in urban driving conditions.”
Commenting on the deal Jon Pollock, General Manager for Toyota Fleet said: “We have received a lot of interest in Prius from local authorities, but it is very encouraging to see Prius used in this way by Westminster City Council. The Prius offers huge potential savings to transport managers in terms of fuel-savings, tax and environmental credibility, yet without having to make any sacrifices in driver appeal.”