New York City is many things—a holy city of cuisine, an epicenter for art and culture, the home of the baffling cronut—but it’s not really a city for cars. Not in the traditional sense. But it is also home to some of the most badass vehicles around: a fleet of Mack trucks owned and operated by the New York Department of Sanitation for the city’s dirtiest jobs.
For the season premiere of /DRIVE on NBC Sports, I got to ride behind the wheel of one of these wonderful trucks to see what it was like to be a New York sanitation worker. It’s fun, but it’s work.
Easily one of the city’s easily most fascinating professions is sanitation. Without it, humanity would come to a disgusting, screeching halt within a matter of days. The people of the DSNY work hard to keep the streets clean, rain or shine, hot or cold. It’s difficult, but it’s a job the rest of us cannot live without.
DSNY sweeps across the streets in an armada of Mack trucks, which are both left- and right-hand drive, depending on what sanitation workers need them for. And they’re used for tough jobs like garbage pickup and snow removal. They are incredible tools.
Each truck’s gross vehicle weight rating comes to 72,000 pounds and has a cargo capacity of 25 cubic yards (675 cubic feet). They run on a Mack E-7 engine that can put out up to 454 HP and 1,660 lb-ft of torque.
The DSNY uses them for about eight years before they get retired. And those have got to be a long and grueling eight years, too. Eight years on New York’s chipped and battered streets in the rain, snow and sleet. The only things more hard-wearing than the trucks are probably the sanitation workers themselves.
Oh, and by the way, the DSNY banned workers from riding on the backs of trucks a few years ago. It was too dangerous. So, if you see a sanitation worker riding on the back of a garbage truck, they don’t work for the DSNY. That’s a private sanitation company.
I spend a morning with Angel, a veteran sanitation worker, and learn all about the fascinating, behind-the-scenes things that he and other sanitation workers engage in.
Here’s a sneak peek.
That—and more—is going to kick off the inaugural episode of season six of /DRIVE on NBC Sports. It’s an episode all about New York City. What business does a show about cars have in the city that hates cars? Watch and find out.
I’ll be joined by hosts Alex Roy and Mike Spinelli, some guys you may or may not have heard of. You can catch the episode this Sunday, Sept. 8 at 8:00 p.m. ET. For cord cutters, I am told the show should be available on YouTube TV and Hulu Live, and will air on iTunes and Amazon later on.
Below, you’ll find some stills and photos. I took some, NBC sent some over and, well, I just wanted to share.
Correction 5:08 p.m. EST: An original version of this post incorrectly stated that 25 cubic yards was equivalent to 75 cubic feet. The error has been corrected.