Bloomberg wants all hybrid taxi fleet by 2012

Posted by Humphrey Cheung

New York (NY) - New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced a plan to turn all taxis in the city into hybrid vehicles by October 2012.  The new vehicles will replace the estimated 13000 taxis and, according to the mayor, will reduce fuel costs and cut pollution.

There are currently less than 400 hybrid taxis and the new hybrid fleet will be phased in as older vehicles are retired.  Currently most of the taxi licenses granted in New York are for hybrid vehicles.

Currently, gasoline-powered taxis in New York get about 14 miles per gallon because of the constant stop and go traffic.  The new taxis should get around 30 miles per gallon.  This extra mileage could save taxi cab owners more than $10000 a year.

Taxi cab owners must obtain “medallions” or licenses from the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission to operate a cab.  The medallion owners can then designate drivers for the cabs.  The Haas Act of 1937 effective froze the number of available medallions and an auction system currently has the medallions trading at more than $150k.  Many of these medallions now have a stipulation that the owner must buy or use a hybrid or alternative fuel vehicle.

Mayor Bloomberg also recently proposed a congestion charge that would charge $8 to cars entering lower Manhattan.  Taxis would presumably be exempt from the charge.