|Part of CAST’s promotion of hybrids to taxi drivers in New York.|
New York City’s first hybrid taxis—a mini-fleet of six Ford Escape hybrids—officially entered operation today with a ceremony in midtown Manhattan where officials from government, advocacy groups and industry gathered for the send off.
Since 1907, only gasoline-powered taxis have worked NYC streets. Thanks to the “Clean Air Taxis Act” and new TLC (Taxi and Limousine Commission) regulations implemented this past summer, New York’s cab drivers are now free to choose from seven gas-electric hybrid models.
Seven out of 10 New Yorkers in a poll conducted last summer by the Coalition Advocating for Smart Transportation (CAST), a major force behind the change in regulation allowing the hybrid taxis, said New York taxis should be converted to hybrids sooner than later.
The change in city policy was prompted by growing public concern over New York’s air quality—ranked as the third worst among the country’s cities in 2004.
According to the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, each New York taxi averages nearly 100,000 miles of driving annually. Thus, the fuel savings for drivers and operators could reach the thousands of dollars every year, and enable hybrid taxi owners to recover the premium cost of the technology within the first year on the road.
The hybrids approved for taxi service by the TLC are:
Ford Escape / Mercury Mariner Hybrid
Lexus Rx 400h