By Bill Parry
A Long Island City-based company is looking to change the way the food cart business operates in New York City.
MOVE Systems and the City Council announced a new pilot program that will provide 500 state-of-the-art eco-friendly foodcarts to vendors throughout the city rent-free.
“It’s a revolutionary model that will usher in a new era,” MOVE Systems CEO James Meeks said. “Our big commitment is to get rid of the old carts that are polluters and dangerous. The MRV100 solves our energy, public health and safety issues.”
New York City has nearly 8,000 food carts and trucks operating on its streets, resulting in an estimated 1.2 million daily mobile food transactions. The typical food cart uses propane, a highly combustible fuel. The city has already experienced food truck and cart fires, including an incident that caused the temporary shutdown of the West Side Highway.
“The MRV100 uses natural gas that is much cleaner and much, much safer around open flame,” Meeks said. The mobile units are safer, provide clean food preparation, and help reduce greenhouse emissions.
The national environmental group Energy Vision released a report assessing the impact of New York City’s existing food cart fleet vs. the new MRV100. According to the report, each MRV100 reduces climate change gases by 60 percent and smog-causing pollution by 95 percent, thereby taking the pollution equivalent of nearly 200 cars off the road.
City Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton), chairman of the Council’s Environmental Conservation Committee, welcomed the new pilot program. “New Yorkers encounter air pollution every day and in some communities like mine, there is an undeniable direct correlation to some of the highest asthma rates in the country,” Richards said. “I’m pleased that the carts being provided will reduce emissions, improve air quality and increase safety on our streets.”
Unlike traditional basic food carts that cost from $15,000 to nearly $25,000, MOVE Systems will lease the 500 food carts free of charge to selected vendors, the first 100 going to disabled veterans. The unit runs on a compressed natural gas generator plus a solar panel providing supplementary power.
“We will charge for the energy and other revenue sources,” Meeks said. “And if it proves economically viable, we’ll go beyond the initial 500 units.”
MOVE Systems opened its headquarters at 29-28 41st Ave. in Long Island City four months ago.
“Queens is the heart of the food cart industry and at night all of the carts return to their commissaries and those are all around the Queens side of the Queensboro Bridge,” Meeks said. “It’s the perfect location for us.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr