New York's Green Taxi Incentives Approved
NEW YORK, New York, March 27, 2009 (ENS) - The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission Board of Commissioners Thursday approved a financial incentive program to increase the use of fuel efficient and environmentally friendly taxicabs.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the incentive program last November as a part of a series of initiatives designed to further increase the use of clean-air taxicabs.

The commission regulates "lease caps," the amount a fleet or taxi owner may charge for the use of a taxicab or medallion license.

The incentive program will allow fleet owners to increase the lease cap fee charged to drivers in fuel efficient vehicles by $3 per shift, which will offset the increased cost of purchasing a fuel efficient vehicle.

The driver, while paying the increased lease cap fee, will still see significant savings due to the reduced fuel costs, which he or she pays.

Taxicab drivers in fuel efficient vehicles achieve an average fuel savings of at least $15 per shift, which adds up to about $5,000 a year.

A few of the 13,000 yellow cabs on New York City streets (Photo credit unknown)

The incentive will generate approximately $2,000 per vehicle per year for fleet owners.

To further incentivize the use of fuel efficient taxis, the commission will propose to decrease the lease cap fee an owner can charge a driver by $12 per shift if the vehicle is a Crown Victoria or another non-fuel efficient vehicle, costing fleet owners approximately $8,500 per year, per vehicle.

The new lease caps will affect all taxicabs that are leased out for shift work, except accessible vehicles. The commission will strictly enforce taxi leases to ensure drivers are not charged any additional fees by fleet owners.

The city's incentive stategy follows a decision in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York last October that prohibited the city from mandating the use of cleaner, more fuel-efficient taxicabs.

The ruling by Judge Paul Crotty blocked the city from implementing the mayor’s initiative to green the New York City’s taxi fleet by requiring taxicab replacement vehicles to meet certain fuel efficiency standards consistent with hybrid models already available for sale in the New York City market. The initiative would have resulted in an all-hybrid taxi fleet by 2012.

The judge sided with taxi owners who argued that fuel economy and vehicle emissions standards are under the jurisdiction of the federal government.

"We have never let roadblocks prevent us from achieving our goals," the mayor said, praising the commission for passing the incentive lease cap plan. "So when the courts prohibited New York City from taking forward-looking actions that would create cleaner air and a healthier place to live, we said we would find another way to continue to green the city's yellow cabs - and we have."

Thursday's actions by the Taxi and Limousine Commission provide financial incentives for the purchase of fuel efficient taxis and will speed the phase-out of older, inefficient vehicles.

Taxi fleet owners will have more reason to purchase cleaner vehicles and taxi drivers will be held financially harmless for the vehicle purchase decisions of fleet owners.

The result will be more clean taxis on New York City streets. Bloomberg said, "Turning yellow cabs green will be another step towards improving our air quality, reducing the use of fossil fuels and lowering our carbon emissions."

Approximately 13,000 yellow taxicabs operate in New York City every day, including 1,551 fuel efficient cabs.

"There are already over 1,300 hybrid taxis on the streets of New York," said TLC Chairman Matthew Daus last summer."They save drivers around $6,500 per year and have been passing inspections 85 percent of the time, as compared to the average 54 percent for other prevalent taxicab vehicles. Switching to a hybrid makes more sense for drivers’ wallets, and for our environment."

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2009. All rights reserved.