Sun | Jun 13, 2021

Idle government vehicles continue to burn cash

Published:Sunday | June 24, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Wastage of fuel persists outside Gordon House

Chad Bryan, Sunday Gleaner Writer

When Parliament is in session, an all-too-common sight is a motor vehicle parked in the vicinity of Gordon House on Duke Street in Kingston with its engine running idly and air-conditioning on as drivers in jackets wait for their charges to emerge.

Although recently there has been a resurgence in the long-standing debate about the obvious waste, last Tuesday a Toyota Rav-4 and a Mitsubishi Pajero, both with FH plates, were parked on Beeston Street with engines on and air-conditioning running. Each had a driver at the steering wheel, cellular phone to his ear.

On the other hand, on Duke Street, a Toyota Land Cruiser's (GB plates) front windows were down and the engine was off. The driver was behind the steering and on a cellphone.

In a Sunday Gleaner story in 2008, then Energy Minister Clive Mullings said he was aware of the issue of parliamentarians' vehicles being left idle and the amount of energy wasted. He also noted that it was essential that a policy be developed to curb the practice.

The minister stated, "We can't sit down and be running AC like that. It is a waste of energy. Sadly, one would expect that a quiet word would suffice, but it seems we have to develop a policy."

In 2011, Jamaica's oil bill was approximately US$5.9 billion.

According to the website, every two minutes a vehicle is parked with the engine runing, it consumes the same amount of gas required to drive approximately one mile. A vehicle left idling for an hour, results in a gallon of fuel being wasted. The website said while it is a widely held view that restarting the engine damages the engine, 10 seconds spent idling consumes more fuel than turning off and then restarting the engine.

The diesel engine of a 2010 Mitsubishi Pajero will burn approximately 2.5 litres per hour and an idling gasoline engine will burn approximately 3.5 litres per hour.

Added to the fuel waste is the carbon emission.

In the United States of America, states such as New York, California and Virginia have laws prohibiting the continued idling of motor vehicles. This is also the case in Switzerland and Canada. In Canada, someone who leaves a car with its engine idling is liable to be fined between CDN$100 and CDN$400, this in an effort to reduce smog.