Hybrid taxis slowly catching on in the west
Author: Fred Gober
At long last, hybrids may be catching on with taxi companies in Los Angeles County. With the focus on carbon footprints and global warming, it is anticipated that taxi fleets throughout the nation will add a significant number of hybrids over the next several years.
California's move towards green cabs first took root in San Francisco. In 2005, that city introduced 15 Ford Escape hybrids. Now, after reaching the ripe old retirement age of 300,000 miles on their original battery, several of the Escapes are being taken off the road. Not only have San Francisco's green cabs shown that hybrid technology is more durable than first imagined; the San Francisco hybrid experience ended up saving the drivers $9,000 a year (depending on the cost of gasoline and the number of miles driven). Currently, 14% of San Francisco's 1,438 taxis and 15% of New York's 13,237 taxis are hybrids. In Los Angeles, a city with more traffic and pollution than San Francisco, there are only 2 hybrids out of a combined fleet of 2303. Today, the typical Los Angeles taxi is a big heavy-duty gas guzzler such as the two-ton Ford Crown Victoria which is one of LA's the most popular taxis. The average Ford Crown Victoria produces 42.4 tons of Green House Gases per year while the Toyota Prius produces 15.9 tons of Green House Gases per year. The first hint of a change in Los Angeles County occurred last summer when the city of Burbank approved United Independent and City Cabs request to add hybrids to their fleets. Today, 20% of Burbank 120 taxi fleet is now green. Further south, Long Beach Yellow Cab rolled out its first hybrid in September 2008 and the city now has 5 Ford Escapes and 5 Toyota Priuses. The company also has 5 Crown Victoria taxis that have run on compressed natural gas since 2000. Finally, in May 2009, Bell Cab introduced LA city's first hybrid cabs. These 2 hybrids, out of a citywide fleet of 2303, is admittedly a drop in the bucket but, based upon the positive results in San Francisco and other large American cities, it should be the start of something big. For those interested in patronizing green taxis, below is a list of companies serving several larger US cities which include hybrid taxis in their fleets: Boston Chicago Denver New York San Francisco Seattle
Fred Gober is an Examiner from Los Angeles.
Link: Los Angeles United States of America