Adoption of hybrid taxis in New York delayed by court ruling

Adoption of hybrid taxis in New York delayed by court ruling Yellow taxis are icons in New York City and appear on every street corner and frequently pop up in the movies. They may be a beloved form of transportation but they are often gas guzzling sedans that get horrible gas mileage. While many Americans are looking forward to hybrid and plug-in cars like the Volt or Leaf, it appears that New York City’s taxi owners don’t want to use green technology to transport passengers.

Ford’s Crown Victoria is the king of New York’s 13,401 taxis due to its reliability and roomy interior. The “Crown Vic” may offer a comfortable ride, but it only gets 12 to 14 mpg while traveling in the city. Each cab also averages 100,000 miles per year, a number that certainly contributes to carbon emissions.

In an effort to cut emissions and improve air quality, Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched a plan in 2007 to add more more fuel efficient taxis to the city’s streets. The city issued a mandate that any new taxi that was in service by October 2009 had to have a rating of 30 mpg.

A number of fleet owners as well as the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade sued the city and blocked the rule under a claim that fuel and emission standards were up to the federal government. A legal melee continued between the city and taxi companies resulting in the city’s decision to alter the lease cap rates that would encourage the adoption of hybrid taxis. The Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade was granted an preliminary injunction against the mandate in June due to another federal oversight issue.

Fighting regulation isn’t a new thing for New York City’s Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade. They fought back against requests for customer friendly ideas like mandatory air conditioning, safety inspections, GPS tracking, automated meters, and a a five-year retirement rule for aging vehicles. However, in their fight against the city they made a hypocritical argument that hybrids wouldn’t have as much leg room as the spacious Crown Victoria.

While it’s disappointing that the industry would put up such a fight against green cars there may be hope in sight. As of next year, Ford’s Crown Victoria that features a living room sized back seat will no longer be in production. In its place will be the new Transit Connect van which gets 22 mpg. In addition, lawmakers that represent a number of major cities like Boston and Las Vegas have created a “Green Taxi Act” that would regulate the industry on a federal level.