New York’s Push For Hybrid Cabs Gets Struck Down By Supreme Court

by , 03/01/11

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Despite a worthy push from the city, the Supreme Court refused to consider an appeal made by New York to mandate fuel emission standards on the city’s cabs. According to Mayor Bloomberg’s plan, taxi owners who did not use fuel-efficient cars would have been penalized. In 2007, the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade brought the original suit against the proposal, when the city first attempted to mandate that all taxi-cabs get at least 30 miles a gallon by 2009. The city then announced a decision to replace all 13,000 taxi cabs in the city with hybrids by 2012. Unfortunately, both the proposals were struck down by lower courts because only federal agencies are currently allowed to regulate fuel economy and emission standards.

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David S. Yassky, chairman of the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission told the NY Times that he was “bitterly disappointed.”

Currently the Ford Crown Victoria (the most common form of yellow cabs) gets only about 16 miles a gallon on New York’s roads. Of the 12 models of yellow cabs that are regulated to be used, 9 of them are hybrids. A move to convert all of them to hybrids would be stepping on federal regulations. Of the total fleet on the streets, though, only 4,300 are hybrids right now.

The Crown Victoria is about to be phased out, however, and the taxi commission is holding a contest to find a new vehicle to replace New York’s ubiquitous cab from 2014. The city has asked for proposals from car companies across the world and has cited low emission standards as a high priority.

Expressing his regret at the decision, Bloomberg said at a news conference on Monday, “The cities are those that are addressing real-world problems like climate change and energy policy. The federal government seems unable to address those issues. Bloomberg may eventually lobby the federal legislature to change the 1970s law that disallows city governments to control emissions. Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York proposed a bill in 2009 along the same lines and a spokesperson for the senator said Ms. Gillibrand planned to reintroduce the legislation.

In a statement, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, Michael Woloz said the victory was “bittersweet”. “It’s very unfortunate because everybody — the city and the industry — could have used that four years to really get a more fuel-efficient fleet on the streets already,” he said.

Woloz added that the mandate was impossible for taxi owners since most currently available hybrids wouldn’t have been able to go through the beating most cabs get on a daily basis.

Via NY Times


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  1. thesupervillain March 1, 2011 at 2:45 pm
    Congress should act on this - even the Tea Party might be on board because of state's rights!
  2. Zeppflyer March 1, 2011 at 2:24 pm
    I'm conflicted. On the one hand, I am all for municipalities being allowed to regulate such matters and taxi cabs are a great place to introduce and experiment with all sorts of fuel saving technologies. On the other hand, the Crown Vic is the best car ever built and can never be topped.