White Plains Continues Garbage Truck Transition

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On Thursday afternoon at a Capital Projects Board meeting, White Plains city officials discussed expanding a pilot project to transition to side-loading garbage trucks.

For many White Plains residents, the days of seeing their garbage man hanging off the back of the truck may soon be over.
Last December, the city began a pilot program in which one side-loading truck – with which an operator inside the vehicle uses prongs to pick up residents’ garbage and dump it into the hopper – replaced the traditional rear-loading truck in certain neighborhoods. The experiment has been so successful, according to Department of Public Works Commissioner Bud Nicoletti, that the city is accelerating plans to transition to the side-loading vehicles.
At a meeting of the city’s Capital Projects Board on Thursday, city officials agreed to purchase another side-loading truck in lieu of a back-loading truck that had been slated for purchase.
“We’re finding that we’re able to use those in more and more locations throughout the city,” Nicoletti said. “It’s still a pilot program and we’re expanding it as we see fit.”
Eileen Bradley, a member of the city’s Rolling Stock Committee, recommended buying another side-loader. At around $275,000, the trucks cost more than the $160,000 back-loaders but officials believe the cost is made up in the savings for labor, as only one person is needed to drive the truck and operate the prong.
“It’s been a successful program thus far, and in addition to the labor savings and the increase in speed, it reduces the exposure to employee injury,” Mayor Tom Roach said.
The pilot program began with one truck around Dec. 1, 2011. With a second truck already on order, the city may soon have three side-loaders on the streets.
“We’re actually pleasantly surprised,” Nicoletti said. “For seven or eight months now, it’s been exceeding expectations.”
The new trucks are also capable of picking up recyclables and garbage in the same stop because they have a split hopper. Since the operator is inside, bad weather doesn’t have as much of an impact.
“The fellows like them, the operators,” Nicoletti added. “It’s actually like a giant video game. It’s a joystick kind of thing.”
While rear-loaders will still represent the majority of the approximately 12 garbage trucks the city owns, Nicoletti said he expects the transition to continue, perhaps until half the trucks are side-loaders. Using side-loading trucks may be difficult in some parts of the city, he said.

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