More Cities Looking to Hybridize Bus and Taxi Fleets
King County, which encompasses Seattle, has a bus fleet of 1,400. Only 236 are hybrids, but fleet manager Jim Boon anticipates that number will multiply: "Having the stored energy in the batteries gives us much better fuel economy."
Seattle's taking on enviro-friendly causes is no shocker. But other cities are, too—with prodding from officials who want to decrease emissions and noise and save money on fuel. Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley has proposed an ordinance requiring any fleet owner with 50 or more medallions to have at least one hybrid or alternative-fuel vehicle by June 2007. "Mayor Daley's goal is to have the greenest city in America," says Norma Reyes, commissioner of the Department of Consumer Services, which oversees taxis. In New York City, lawmakers should vote soon on whether to turn all cabs into hybrids in the next half decade.
Hybridization could take time: taxi operators typically run cabs for five years, and transit systems run buses for 12 to 18. Hybrid models like the Prius and Civic can be too small for cabbies, who need room for four passengers and luggage, says Ray Mundy, professor of transportation at the University of Missouri. So cab operators—who traditionally buy used Crown Victoria police cruisers—are stuck with expensive SUV hybrids like the Ford Escape and Toyota Highlander. When could we see a hybrid Crown Victoria? No time soon, says a Ford spokesman.
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