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New York City’s Yellow Cabs Go Green
City Council approves initiative for hybrid taxis
New York, NY—New York’s yellow cabs are going green, as the City Council approves the swift passage of Intro 664, the “Clean Air Taxis Act” that would jumpstart the conversion of New York City’s taxi fleet to less-polluting, more fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles. Since New York’s taxi fleet has approximately 13,000 cabs, the move would immediately help reduce New York City’s crushing air pollution burden, while also providing a boon to New York City’s cabbies. Hybrid cars get almost double the miles per gallon as standard models.
“I have been wanting to drive a hybrid taxi for years now,” said Kwame Corsi, a taxi driver from the Bronx. “Once this law allows us to drive hybrids, our gas mileage will skyrocket and our expenses will plummet. We pollute less and make more money—who can argue against that?”
“Let’s face it—this decision isn’t just better for cabbies-- it’s better for every New Yorker who breathes the air. It also shows that here in New York we’re doing our part to reduce global warming pollution,” said Bob Muldoon of the Sierra Club. “New York is the innovation capital of the world, so why shouldn’t we drive the best new fuel-efficient cars?”
Three cab drivers—Evgeny Freidman, Mamed Dzhaniyev, and Vladimir Basin—have already placed winning bids on clean-fuel taxi medallions, which ideally should entitle them to obtain and drive hybrid taxis. Unfortunately, those bids have been up in the air because the Taxi and Limousine Commission has refused to approve any hybrid vehicles for use as taxis. This new legislation, once signed by the mayor, will allow them—and thousands of other taxi drivers—to get more miles per gallon.
Today’s vote is part of a new “Green Fleets” trend that is sweeping the nation. Recently, the Town of North Hempstead on Long Island purchased several new hybrid vehicles after receiving extensive information on the technology from the Sierra Club. North Hempstead has made the commitment to convert its entire municipal fleet eventually to hybrid technology. Just a few weeks ago, Charlotte, NC lawmakers voted to convert the city’s municipal fleet to hybrid technology, another effort involving strong advocacy by the Sierra Club. Charlotte joins with Denver, CO, Seattle, WA, and Madison, WI—all cities that have taken steps to convert to “Green Fleets.”
The “Clean Air Taxis Act,” when adopted, will require the Taxi and Limousine Commission to approve at least one model of hybrid gas-electric vehicle for use as a New York City taxicab within 90 days of the law’s enactment. The approved hybrid model(s) will be eligible for immediate use by all current and future medallion owners, including but not limited to owners who purchased special medallions set aside for clean air vehicles under earlier legislation sponsored by David Yassky of Brooklyn and passed by the Council in 2003.
Hybrid taxis combine a gasoline engine with an electric motor and batteries to help the conventional engine operate more efficiently. The highly efficient gasoline engine has a clean electric motor that does not have to be plugged in. The difference in efficiency and emissions is greatest when a vehicle is idling or in slow traffic, making city taxicabs an ideal application for hybrid car technology.
New York City's air quality violates the federal health standard for photochemical smog. Hybrid vehicles, which have efficient emissions control technology, emit very little smog-forming pollutants. Consequently, use of hybrid taxis could help New York City reduce air pollution significantly. Some hybrid cars on the market – such as the Ford Escape – promise twice the fuel efficiency of the Ford Crown Victoria, which comprises more than 93 percent of the city’s taxi fleet today. As a result, the use of such hybrid cars can cut emissions of global warming pollutants by 50 percent or more in comparision with traditional vehicles.
Muldoon added, “New Yorkers may be surrounded by concrete, but we still want to do our part to protect the environment. Here in this trendsetting city we are making a commitment to reduce global-warming pollution from our cars, in the hopes that this idea will spread to other cities.”
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