Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Urban Dispatch: It Is Probably Definitely Time To Convert Philadelphia's Entire Fleet Of Taxis To Hybrids

hybrid taxis all up in nyc, what about philly?Oh, New York — you really impress us sometimes. (Mostly in regard to everything about PLANYC.)

And this is one of those times.
Owners of hybrid cars from Boston to San Francisco like to boast about how their vehicles not only save them money at the gas pump, but help the environment, too.

Add to that list some of the toughest drivers around: New York City cabbies.

By 2012, all of New York’s approximately 13,000 taxis will have to get at least 30 miles a gallon on the city’s streets. Because hybrids are about the only vehicles able to meet that target, most of the gas-only cabs in the city’s fleet are expected to disappear during the next five years.
Zing. That is what we’re talking about.
Replacing the city’s 13,000 yellow cabs, more than 90 percent of which are Crown Victorias, with hybrid vehicles would have the same impact on air quality as removing 32,000 privately owned vehicles from the road, the mayor said.

Hybrids, which run on a combination of gasoline and electricity, emit less exhaust and are far more fuel-efficient; a hybrid Ford Escape, for instance, is rated at 34 miles per gallon in city driving.

Environmentalists have long complained about the poor gas mileage of the Crown Victoria, which gets 10 to 15 miles to the gallon in city traffic.
Zing. Zing.

New York has a fleet of 13,000 taxis. Philadelphia has a fleet of 1,600. So it wouldn't have as dramatic an impact here, but by our math, replacing the Philly fleet of 1,600 taxis will have the same impact on air quality as removing some 4,000 privately owned vehicles from the road. I.E. nothing to sneeze at.

Especially when you consider the all-important image factor. Hybrid taxis connote a progressive, modern and sustainable city. That is the exactly the type of image a city needs to cultivate if it’s going to compete and thrive in the 21st century. Which is probably something Philadelphia should be cognizant of.


Who should Philadelphia be extra concerned with impressing while they’re in town? Visitors.

What do visitors use a lot when they’re here?? Taxis.

Why do we care about visitors' impressions of the city??? Because when they leave, after a positive experience, they go home and spread the news about Philadelphia via that magical and priceless method of natural marketing called “word-of-mouth.”

And so it begins…

But what about the taxi drivers, you ask?? They didn’t appreciate the GPS/Credit Card systems — are they going to resist driving hybrids?
Drivers of hybrid taxis interviewed recently said they were mostly pleased with their cars, particularly with how much money they saved on fuel.
For the last six months, Zulfiqar Aslam has driven a Ford Escape and spends about $10 a day on gas, $25 less than when he drove a Crown Victoria.
"The cabbie community is always looking for a cheaper way,” he said as he wove through traffic in Midtown. “When we meet at the airport, they ask me how much I spend on gas.”
The slightly higher cost of buying hybrid vehicles would be offset by the average $10,000 a year owners would save in fuel costs.
a hybrid ford escape taxi saves its driver $25 a day in gasTake note Mayor Nutter and Philadelphia Parking Authority: NYC offers discounts to incentivize medallions for hybrid taxis.
In previous auctions, the Taxi and Limousine Commission offered discounted medallions for hybrids to encourage drivers to try the vehicles. Two more of these medallions will be auctioned in May for a minimum $300,000 each, about 30 percent below the average $432,000 market price.

The taxi commission caps the lease rates that fleet operators can charge, but there is no rule against charging different rates for different models.

Drivers who own their hybrid taxis, though, can accumulate all the savings. Gerard Cherizol, who paid $31,000 for a Ford Escape Hybrid earlier this year, spends just $20 a day on gas, $25 less than when he drove a Crown Victoria.

He also says the Escape, a small sport utility vehicle, provides better visibility and has more luggage space in the back than the trunk of a Crown Victoria. The Escape also has surprisingly strong acceleration, he said.

"This one, I’m in love, especially since this is the first car I bought," said Mr. Cherizol, who has driven a taxi in New York for 25 years. "It’s so fast, I pass like a little bird on the highway."
Hear that? Like a little bird.

In May of 2006, New York had 27 hybrid taxis in its entire fleet. (Probably about 20 more than Philadelphia currently has…) Not even two years later, in April of 2008, New York has 1,020 hybrids in its 16,000-vehicle taxi fleet, having added 1,000 hybrids to its fleet in less than two years.

So, Nutts, you have 1,600 taxis to convert to hybrids. N. B. D. You could (and should) have that done by January 2010.

But don’t worry — we’ll check back in on you much sooner than that.

And we are DEAD serious about the green factor being pretty much paramount to Philadelphia's future (aside from public education, which will be a panacea for almost every other ill). America's two best cities, New York and Chicago, both have mayors that recognize the importance of becoming incredibly green and sustainable. And both Bloomberg and Daley are fervently pursuing sustainability as a result. And appropriately so.

Mayor Nutter, we expect you to help Philadelphia join them — not watch as the gap between New York / Chicago and Philadelphia widens.

We sincerely hope you're on board with as much.

The Greening of the Yellow Fleet [ New York Times ]
Mayor Plans An All-Hybrid Taxi Fleet [ New York Times ]

1 comment:

thecitydesk said...

Oh, we'll probably get them down here after they've gone 100,000 miles on NYC's streets.