San Francisco Bolsters Incentives for Alt-Fuel Taxis
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. --- San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom this month joined environmental leaders to announce a new package of financial incentives to boost the number of compressed natural gas (CNG) and hybrid taxis serving San Francisco. Natural gas vehicles reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30% and cost much less than gasoline-powered vehicles to operate, directly benefiting both the environment and taxi drivers responsible for the costs of fuel. Hybrid vehicles provide equal benefit, reducing air pollution, fuel consumption and driver expenses. Clean Energy will provide incentives of approximately $16,000 per CNG taxi. CAST, an alliance of groups dedicated to reducing urban pollution, asthma and U.S. dependence on oil, will provide resources aimed at increasing the number of hybrid taxis. Speaking of the new incentive package, Mayor Newsom said: “When government, private industry and the public work hand-in-hand to promote environment health, we can make real progress. The generous incentives and expertise offered by Clean Energy and CAST could very well double the number of clean-air taxis operating on the streets.” The city also offers benefits for clean-air taxis, including once-per-shift front-of-the-line privileges at SFO and waivers for airport trip fees. The San Francisco Taxicab Commission allows clean-air taxis one additional year of service, provided they pass mechanical inspections. Since 1999, when CNG vehicles first entered San Francisco ’s taxi fleet, SFO has administered clean-air grants to reduce the vehicle purchase price. The San Francisco taxi fleet currently contains 140 CNG vehicles and will soon have 30 hybrid vehicles out of a total fleet size of 1,381. According to local dealerships, special orders for CNG taxis are ramping up and they expect to exceed more than 100 additional vehicles within the next few months. About 800 CNG taxis are now in service in Los Angeles, Seattle, Phoenix, Oakland and San Francisco. Of the hybrid taxis, Jack Hidary, chairman of CAST, said: “Hybrid vehicles reduce air pollution, fuel consumption and driver expenses. Everybody wins with these taxis and we are committed to working with Mayor Newsom and the Taxi Commission so that San Francisco leads the way towards energy independence.” CAST has led the campaigns to increase the number of hybrid taxis in other cities, including New York and Chicago.