The department that most faculty and staff know as Transportation Services has officially changed its name to Fleet Management effective January 1, 2015.
“The new name reflects the department’s modernization and role in serving the fleet and vehicle rental needs of its campus customers,” explains Brian Browning, director of administrative and support services for the UT Knoxville campus.
The name Transportation Services was often confused with the UT Parking and Transit department—particularly by people who were trying to get a parking pass or pay a parking fine.
“They (Fleet Management) got a lot of calls about parking tickets and parking questions,” Browning said. “So we know it was confusing.”
Over the past year, finance and administration employees have evaluated various aspects of fleet management to determine whether outsourcing the university’s vehicle needs would reduce costs and increase efficiency. UT Knoxville oversees fleet management for the Knoxville campus, the UT Institute of Agriculture, and UT System departments in the Knoxville area. The department also assists the Martin and Chattanooga campuses with fleet procurement.
After evaluating a variety of factors, UT administrators decided against outsourcing options. A number of steps have since been taken to streamline the service center’s operations and strengthen its core fleet management and rental services.
The department manages a fleet of 500 vehicles assigned to other university departments in the Knoxville area. An additional 130 vehicles are on hand at Fleet Management for UT departments to rent on an as-needed basis. It also works with several companies to provide reasonable prices on various sizes and types of charter buses for departmental use.
The changes that have been made include:
- The office hours have changed to 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The maintenance shop will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
- Process improvements were made to vehicle maintenance, warranty and recall work.
- As people left the university and retired, several positions were eliminated to reduce costs. The department now employs eighteen full-time employees and six part-time students.
- Changes have been made to the rental process to include a pre- and post-rental inspection and valet service.
Fleet Management is also now working more closely with campus departments to help coordinate the purchase of vehicles to better meet their unique needs. For example, the UT Police Department is trying out several different police package models this year to evaluate which function best as police cruisers. While cost is a major deciding factor in vehicle purchases, Fleet Management also tries to tailor vehicles to meet the individual or department’s needs.
Certain considerations are being made in regard to the scheduled replacement of vehicles in both the fleet and rental programs. The lifetime expectancy of certain vehicles will be extended instead of selling the vehicles at auction prematurely. This will allow the department to better recuperate costs associated with the original purchase of the vehicle.
The department will also be implementing new vehicle management software that will allow the department to better track vehicle maintenance and mileage. The goal is to improve the process by streamlining the approval process through the use of online reservations and e-mail.
The search for a new director is also underway, with the goal of having a new director in place by March. Longtime director Mike Moneymaker passed away last March. He worked for the department for thirty-seven years. Ken Inman had served as acting director since March before retiring in December.
For more information, visit the Fleet Management website or call 865-974-2134.