May 23, 2007: Source – Reuters
It’s taken a while for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to realize that hybrid taxis are a no-brainer. Yesterday, he announced a plan that would require all of the Big Apple’s taxi cabs to be gas-electric hybrids by 2012.
This announcement makes Evgeny Freidman, fleet manager for three different New York-based taxi companies, look like a soothsayer. It’s also a vindication of Freidman’s struggle to make New York’s yellow cabs a bit greener. HybridCars.com spoke with Mr. Freidman in 2005, soon after he purchased the first 18 of New York City’s taxi medallions targeted for use with hybrid or natural gas cabs. At that time, Freidman said, “Within five to ten years, all New York City cabs will be hybrids or some other type of alternative vehicle."
In 2004, Freidman spent $222,743 (one-third less than the cost of a regular medallion) for each of the licenses. Unfortunately, he had to sue the Commission to use the medallion and put the hybrid taxis into service. The Commission had argued unsuccessfully that hybrids lack sufficient legroom. By March 2006, Freidman had purchased an additional hybrid medallion and put 19 Ford Escape Hybrids on New York City streets. "People love the ride, and the drivers are very happy," Friedman said. "It’s an economic issue for them. They save $20 per shift [on gas].”
According to Reuters, New York City now has 375 hybrids taxis on the road. Bloomberg’s plan calls for an additional 1,000 hybrid taxis to be introduced by October 2008, and the rest of the city’s 13,000 taxi cabs by 2012.
“It will be the largest, cleanest fleet of taxis anywhere on the Planet,” said Bloomberg. “And because taxis are so heavily used, the new standard will have the equivalent of removing 30,000 individually-owned gas-powered vehicles from our streets.”
The move to hybrid taxi cabs in New York City will also create a model for other major cities around the world to follow. Hybrid taxis have also been put in use in Vancouver, London, and San Francisco.