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NYC Mayor to Order Hack Fleet Hybridized by 2012

Illustration for article titled NYC Mayor to Order Hack Fleet Hybridized by 2012

New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg is on a roll, and we don't mean onion. Last month he proposed a plan that would charge New Yorkers a congestion tax for driving into Manhattan. This week, CNN reports hizzoner will order the commissioner of the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission to start a replacement cycle that would see all 13,000 of the city's cabs to be hybrids by 2012. Current hybrid hacks prowling the city streets include the Toyota Prius, Camry and Highlander, Lexus RX 400H, Ford Escape, Saturn Vue Green Line, Honda Accord and Honda Civic. But unlike the congestion tax, which would be untenable for the city's contractors streaming in from the outer boroughs, hybrid cabs make perfect sense. But we're waiting to see if the drive systems can survive 500,000 miles in Potholio.


New York yellow cabs go green [CNN]

Bloomberg To NYC Drivers: Drop Dead [internal]

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@danio: I think you have it exactly backwards - the debate is only on the political side. Scientists are as unified as science can ever be about the fact of global warming and the effect of pollution on it. Anyone who doesn't see that right now really might as well be referred to as a Flat-Earther.

How is forcing the use of hybrids an "extreme" anything? The cars are not substantially more expensive or any different than the other cars currently used except in that they use auto-shutoff and battery power to optimize gas use in the stop-n-go traffic of city driving. If you've ever driven in New York you'll know that New York is all stop-n-go traffic. Hybrids are ideal for that kind of driving. Where hybrids are not optimal is on the highway - and that's just generally not a part of the average cab's driving experience.

Yes, there are other fuels to use. I stood behind a CNG bus the other day as it pulled away from a stop and I have to say, where normally I would have gotten a face full of soot all I got was a blast of relatively clean smelling air. CNG's great, even if it is another limited fossil fuel. Ethanol has promise if production efficiencies and scale can be reached. Biodiesel has potential too. But those are just alternative fuels, not alternative technologies. Hybrids could run on any of them. What hybrids offer is the ability to generate electricity at times when full engine power is not needed, and use that electricity when it is efficient to do so. As I said above, that's perfect for city driving, and there's no city "more city" than New York in that respect.

As for the "lower middle-class vote" of the cabbies (I assume you're talking about the cabbies here) - yes, cabbies are not extremely well paid. They generally don't make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year - probably closer to $40,000. And yes, hybrids are probably a little more expensive at this point than non-hybrids - maybe $5000 not including any tax benefits. But take into account that $5000 is a small amount of the total operating cost of a New York City cab - the medallion alone (what is necessary to drive a cab in New York) costs more than $350,000. Cabbies who make $40,000 a year do not own their medallion or their own car. Those who are owner/operators (an increasingly rare breed) make significantly more and have to cover all the operating costs of the vehicle. For them, the $5000 is a small amount that really is easily offset by business tax deductions, hybrid credits and most importantly gas expense savings. Even if it isn't, a simple adjustment to the fare price passes the cost on to the passengers who benefit from using the resource. But my guess is that the fare price should actually go down with the increased efficiency (though obviously it won't). Keep in mind that this is not just something that Mikey thought up one morning in the shower - hybrids have been evaluated in New York for a couple of years now and the data suggest that it is environmentally beneficial and cost effective. And that's enough of an argument to me.