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New York Quadruples Number of Alternative Fuel Medallions for Next Taxi Auction

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Taxi and Limousine Chairman/Commissioner Matthew Daus announced an sharp increase in the number of Alternative Fuel Medallions for City taxicabs.

The Medallion sale scheduled for next month will now include 254 alternative fuel and hybrid medallions, up from a previously scheduled 62 of the 308 to be auctioned. The Alternative Fuel Medallion may be applied to TLC-approved vehicles that use either compressed natural gas (CNG) or hybrid fuel technology.

Clean air and fuel efficient cabs are in the best interests of all New Yorkers. Alternative fuel and hybrids taxis are three times more fuel efficient than regular taxis and have close to zero emissions. By encouraging alternative fuel and hybrid taxis, New Yorkers get cleaner air, drivers have lower fuel costs and we all become less reliant on foreign oil.

—Mayor Bloomberg

Currently, 10 car models using this technology have been approved for use as taxi cabs by the TLC including the Toyota Prius, Highlander Hybrid and Camry Hybrid, the Honda Civic Hybrid and Accord Hybrid, the Ford Escape Hybrid, the Saturn Vue Hybrid, Lexus RX 400h and the Mercury Mariner Hybrid.

The first hybrid taxis entered service in New York in November 2005—a mini-fleet of six Ford Escape hybrids. (Earlier post.) According to the Taxi Commission, there are 27 hybrid cabs now in service in the city.

More than 3,000 of the City’s light-duty vehicles are hybrids or use alternative fuel.

(A hat-tip to Joe Willemssen!)



Bloomberg is to be commended for this but he and the City of New York could make a much greater impact by simply banning on-street parking permits for city employees. The subject has been covered at TOD NYC. If you are ever on foot in Lower Manhattan, the reality of this would become plain. Block after block of vehicles parked on city streets for the simple reason that the owner of said vehicle, a city employee, has been given what amounts to a Kyoto pass. Leave them home, take the train, like everyone else.


All the same, I'm sure that on-street parking passes have become an important part of a city employee's benefits package. Take it away, and they will just demand more pay or other (costlier) fringe benefits. That would have a negative effect on the city budget, which unlike federal or even state budgets, generally goes towards socially useful programs which really effect quality of life.

Moreover, on-street parking is something of a zero-sum game. If you take away city-employee permits, commercial vehicles or other meter-users will proliferate and take the spots instead. Banning all on-street parking to reduce the number of spots available in the city, leading to fewer cars being driven in? That goes beyond your proposal. It is interesting, but painful.

After all, this is the Green *Car* Congress. As I've said once in the past, cars provide a form of personal mobility which is very desireable and often useful. While highly-car-oriented suburban development trends often result in sterile communities which generally depress me, when used in moderation cars are generally good.

I would not support reducing our capacity to support cars just for reduction's sake. I support gas taxes, tolls and pricing measures aimed at reducing congestion, reducing pollution and shifting all the costs of car-use back to the users.

Encouraging the use of efficient, low pollution, city-optimized vehicles in a taxi fleet operating in an extremely dense urban environment makes sense. Taking away parking spaces from certain users just to give them to others does not seem likely to reduce driving much, and will only strain the city coffers. Taking parking spaces out of circulation willy-nilly (my strawman, not your proposal) is not obviously a welfare-optimizing result either.


Are there any reports on the reliability of hybrids in taxi fleet service yet? If the hybrids are working well then NYC should mandate a phased switchover to hybrids for the whole taxi fleet.


Maybe a "Congestion Tax?" like central London?


Fucking London. I got a £50 fine for driving into a congestion zone by accident. Even worse one of my mates pointed out after our three and a half hour drive that we could have done it in under an hour on the tube.

I think there is a Prius taxi that has done over 180,000 miles, so it looks like they would hold up.

I'm not sure if a Prius is big enough for a taxi but the Camry and smaller SUVs should be fine.


Having grown up in Manhattan, I can say that nobody needs a car in NYC under any circumstances. The B&T schmoes have fine commuter rail and bus options. Once in the city, they don't drive around. So ban them outright. Allow the people who actually LIVE in the city to park on the street (like Boston's residence permits), raise the B&T tolls to $10, and force the issue already.

But, use the near term to re-enforce some positive change by granting waivers to hybrids that have at least 2 passengers (no 1-passengers Escapes, thank you).

Smartest thing one of these hybrid medallion owners could do is install a plug-in kit right away. The cost savings would pay back that $9,000 super fast.


Both SF and NY have been trying out hybrid taxis but the NY taxis haven't been out long enough to say if they are going to be reliable in the long run. SF taxis have reached the 100K mark and have been doing well. Although, some of the hybrids had their water pumps blow at 50K.

I would think a 'congestion tax' in NY would work better than taking back the permits for city employees. As someone else pointed out, those spots would just be taken up by commercial vehicles.


Provide medallions for parking and provide free parking to no one. Money from the medallions could offset any attendant wage/benefit increases.

Also consider, doing away with all on street parking to be replaced by elevated bicycle lanes.

Cars are, perhaps, a necessary evil, but not in cities as large and as congested as New York.


Hybrids run on gasoline.

Since when is gasoline an alternative fuel?

Joseph Willemssen

Since when is gasoline an alternative fuel?

It is if you're a food-fueled pedestrian. :)

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