The mayor, allied with environmentalists and city and federal legislators, announced new incentives that would encourage taxi fleet owners to make the switch from standard cabs to environmentally friendly ones. The mayor, who is working to ensure that every cab in the city is a hybrid by 2012, announced the incentives in front of the Yakuel Taxi Garage in Long Island City last Friday.
The incentives proposed by the mayor would specifically target the owners of taxi fleets, who typically own the vehicles and lease them out to drivers. If approved, the plan will allow the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) to increase the lease cap on fuel-efficient vehicles, allowing fleet owners to charge drivers an additional $3 per shift for the use of the vehicles.
Though the drivers would have to pay the additional money, the use of fuel-efficient cars would save them approximately $15 per shift in fuel costs. Under the incentive, drivers could save up to $5,000 a year in fuel costs, and fleet owners could generate more than $2,000 per car per year in additional lease payments.
If the incentives fail to change the minds of fleet owners, another component of the mayor’s proposal would decrease the lease cap fee on non-fuel efficient vehicles by $12 a shift, which would cost fleet owners approximately $8,500 per vehicle, per year. Fleet-owned cabs make up 25 percent of New York City’s taxis.
“Our goal from the beginning was to get fuel efficient taxis on the road using whatever appropriate methods required to achieve our goal,” said TLC Chairman Matthew Daus. “The new program will incentivize the purchase of cleaner vehicles while ensuring taxi drivers are not penalized because a taxicab owner is reluctant to make the wiser purchase of a hybrid vehicle.”
The new incentive plan comes on the heels of a recent court decision that blocked the city from requiring that all new taxis be hybrid cars. Bloomberg expressed his disappointment with the ruling, but vowed that he would continue his efforts to create a green fleet through other means.
He indicated that the proposed incentive for fleet owners is the first of many methods to work around the court’s decision, which the city will not appeal.
“By offering incentives that will encourage more taxi fleet owners to purchase hybrids, we have found another avenue to reach our goal of greening our yellow cabs, improving our air quality, and reducing our carbon emissions,” he said.
“Because they save drivers money, cut pollution on our sidewalks, and reduce our dependence on oil, hybrid taxis are a win-win-win for New York City,” said Richard Kassel, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Clean Fuels and Vehicles Project.
Congressman Jerrold Nadler and Councilman David Yassky also announced plans to work around the court decision and promote greener taxis throughout New York City. Nadler will sponsor legislation that will amend the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act to allow local governments to set fuel efficiency standards for the for-hire vehicles they license, while Yassky will investigate legislation on the city level that will lower the required retirement age of Crown Victoria cabs and increase the required retirement age for hybrid taxicabs.
“Fuel-efficient taxis don’t simply represent a pie-in-the-sky futuristic luxury for New Yorkers, but a present-day necessity which will produce a meaningful reduction in our city’s carbon emissions,” said Nadler. “Green taxis will be a win-win scenario for everybody.”