Thursday, December 7, 2006

Green taxis

Last night, the Transportation/Public Safety committee extended the $1 taxi fuel surcharge (item # to come) for another six months. In the related discussion, two interesting issues came up:

  • Drivers' inefficient driving behavior
  • Hybrid taxis and other green technologies
At the same time taxi companies are asking for an extension of the fuel surcharge, they should be engaging in a little self help: doing something about fuel-consuming (and neighborhood disrupting) driving like speeding and aggressive acceleration and braking. The taxi owner/representatives were very receptive to the concern and described some coming technology solutions that will let them monitor driver behavior. The owners want to stop wasteful driving habits. It costs them money.

Aldercritter Linsky inquired about hybrid taxis and other technologies. NS&S says that an effort to encourage hybrid taxis in Newton is a waste.

Taxis are green. Even a big ol' Crown Vic is practically efficient because the availability of taxi service reduces the number of cars and the volume of traffic. Taxis connect people to public transportation. Plus, the number of taxis in Newton is so small, the payoff of some sort of technology initiative would be low.

Coincidentally, there was an item today in the New York Daily News about hybrid taxis.

You could address both issues with one initiative: require taxi owners to install chips that de-tune the engines for better fuel economy at the expense of power.

1 comment:

Matthew said...

I am in California, but I will tell you that fleet vehicle conversion has two major benefits that chips do not:

1. The cars are great outdoor ads for new technologies - they are on the road constantly or parked in high-traffic areas.

2. The cars can play a role in stimulating infrastructure improvements. This can either be literally through the construction of electric recharges/biofuel distribution or even psychologically, as local utility managers have to answer the question of how to get the power to the point of use.

I heard recently (but cannot cite) a recent study that suggested 25-30% of new car buyers were considering alternative fuel vehicles.

While this is no doubt at its core a response to higher gas prices, it could also be that it just seems more realistic to think that you *could* buy one. That it is not some nutcase choice like a geodesic dome house.

I would likely end up in the same place as you on such a small fleet, but thought the other issues bore consideration.