NYC to make Taxi Fleet Green (Hybrids); is it time for every city to do the same?

New York’s yellow cabs to go green by 2012

This is part of a wider initiative by Mayor Bloomberg, but I think every city with a good size Taxi fleet should be considering following NYC lead. It will save money and reduce pollution. He is spreading it out over a five-year period. This seems like an excellent and sensible model.

Is it time for the federal government to actually take some leadership?


I think there’s a role for the federal government in setting uniform air quality/fuel efficiency standards, but I’m not sure they should be making rules specifically about municipal taxi fleets.

ISTM that this is something that’s more effectively implemented by municipalities themselves; if it has positive results for one city, other cities will rush to copy it. Look at the situation in India, where Delhi vastly reduced air pollution by converting taxis and public transit vehicles to CNG and imposing stricter standards on private vehicles, and other Indian cities are now scrambling to catch up.

Thank you for that link, I missed this story, this is an incredible testament to anyone that says “it can’t be done”.


How much do modern cars contribute to smog, though? I mean, I was just in NYC and you barely notice exhaust from cars. Today’s cars are very clean.

On the other hand, the hot dog vendor carts (and Christ, for a city that does so many things so well why are NYC hot dogs so awful?) regularly belch black plumes of smoke from their charcoal-fired grills. It stung my eyes to walk by some of them.

And let’s not even get into the stinking factories I saw while going thru Queens and Brooklyn.

Is this rather expensive effort legitimately the best way to spend pollution-fighting dollars in NYC?

Why not require all government vehicles to be hybrids?

Encouraging the use of hybrid cars wouldn’t cost much, but the results could be significant.

Hybrid cars won’t catch on with the public until they are common on the roads, so that all the unknown factors are less scary. (Most people don’t want to risk thousands of dollars on a car where nobody knows how long the batteries will last, whether it will have any resale value, or where they can find a mechanic to service it). But if the government kick-starts the industry by buying tens of thousands of vehicles, the public will follow. And the car companies will respond to the market, so that there will be more than just the one or two models of hybrids currently available.Selling more cars could also reduce the price per unit.

All the politicians,from all parties, agree that we must reduce our hunger for oil—either for political reasons (the dangers of relying on Middle-east oil ), or for ecological reasons.
So Bush supporters and Al Gore supporters all agree on something, yet none of the politicians are acting on an issue where they could easily pick up votes. I don’t get it.

It seems like an easy issue for the Democrats especially. They could speak in positive language that they are fighting for a better world, (and also hint that they are not pandering to those evil oil companies) .
No negativity, no loud crititicizing of Bush and Iraq, just an optimistic view of the future. Obama could make a JFK style declaration that we will reduce our oil dependency and our carbon output within a decade.

It seems like a no-brainer to me—but I must be missing out on something.

NYC Taxis rack up an enormous amount of miles each year. I have heard between 50k and 120k. I do not know how accurate these numbers are however. It is not just smog, but also CO[sub]2[/sub] that is being reduced.

Here is a detailed report on car and truck contributions to Smog in American Cities.
The New York Metro area which rates ok, has a 35% as of this report.


Other cities should follow suit … but I wonder how many cities have comparable fleets (i.e., as large, running as continuously, and HEAVILY regulated by the city–i.e., not a bevy of independent cab companies, but a quasi-public system like NYCs).

I do NOT think the Feds should get involved on the local level–at least, not yet. Hybrids are just hitting their stride, and I think there’s plenty of time for cities to see that it’s in their best interest and act locally.

I suspect you don’t live in California, where the Prius is the single most popular car. At least in our parking lot. :slight_smile:


It’s nice to think of cabs, but the bigger problems with cabs are that almost all brands are actually controlled by a very few companies. And they sucker the drivers to work for less than minimum wage by making them rent the vehicles and then not giving them a full days work load, so they all stay poor. Why do you think so many immigrants drive cabs? Because they think it’s a real job and don’t see the downsides until they actually do it. Once you find a better job you never go back.

The vast majority of air pollution is invisible. If you see smoke ,generally there is much more your lungs are sucking in that you do not know about.

The city isn’t spending, RickJay. The city is mandating, and the taxi fleets will have to spend. Sadly, this will probably hurt the drivers in the end, as the fleet owners will pass on the extra lease costs to the drivers, who are restricted in how they can recoup the costs. Over time, the gas savings may help the drivers, but drivers often aren’t in a position to absorb extra costs in the short term.

I applaud the plan, but it needs a little more thought regarding who will bear the costs.

This was the one point I was worried about, I thought the mayor mentioned something about helping out the first drivers to switch over. What is the distribution of cabs between independent medallion holders and cab companies? I get the feeling I am missing part of the puzzle. I thought most cabs were owned by cab companies.