NEW YORK CITY — The city's fleet of yellow cabs will go entirely hybrid within five years, and all new taxis will have to meet emissions and mileage standards by next year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Tuesday. Today, there are just 375 fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles among the 13,000 taxis rolling on city streets. That number will increase to 1,000 by October 2008 and will grow by about 20% each year until 2012, when every yellow cab will be a hybrid.
Changing over the fleet is part of Bloomberg's wider sustainability plan for the city, which includes the goal of a 30% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.
The standard yellow cab vehicle is the Ford Crown Victoria, which gets 14 miles per gallon. Turning over the fleet by 2012 is not an impossible goal; the life of a New York City taxi is typically about three-to-five years because the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission requires all vehicles to be retired within a certain time frame.
Besides making the yellow cab brigade entirely green within five years, the city will require all new vehicles entering the fleet after October 2008 to achieve a minimum of 25 miles per gallon. A year later, all new vehicles must get 30 miles per gallon and must be hybrid.
City officials said the new standards, when fully implemented, are expected to reduce carbon emissions by more than 200,000 tons per year. Hybrid vehicles are typically more expensive, but the city said the increase in fuel efficiency will save taxi operators more than $10,000 per year.
Fernando Mateo, president of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers, an advocacy trade group, applauded the city's effort to go green, and said it would be good for drivers and operators. "In the short term, they're going to have to spend more money, but in the long run they will save money," he said. "We support getting more hybrids on the road."
The government does not own the city's yellow cabs, but sells licenses to individual drivers and operators, who must purchase their own vehicles that meet the specifications of the Taxi and Limousine Commission.
The agency serves as the regulating and licensing authority for all vehicles per hire in the city.
Source: AP; USA Today