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June 2007

In last month’s column, we spoke about the goals set by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s PlaNYC document, and the ways in which the landscape would change for the better in the Taxi and Limousine Commission’s regulated industries.

As readers may recall, the plan, which can be accessed and read in its entirety through www.nyc.gov, set forth initiatives including sales tax exemptions for clean air vehicles, the testing and introduction of anti-idling technology, strategic exemptions from the congestion pricing pilot, and the promotion of more efficient vehicles in the for-hire vehicle industry. The next step is to strategically plan the precise ways by which these goals will be achieved.

As historic as the original announcement of PlaNYC was, not only for the TLC’s regulated industries, but for the cities, organizations and people who truly care about making this world a cleaner and better place to live in, on May 22, the landscape changed yet again. It was on that day that I joined Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in announcing the acceleration of plans to reach the goals set forth in PlaNYC for reducing carbon emissions and increasing air quality. This accelerated plan calls for the phase-in of progressive mileage standards culminating in the requirement that incoming taxicab vehicles achieve a minimum fuel efficiency of 30 miles per gallon as of October 2009. This would result in an all-hybrid taxicab fleet by 2012, and achieve the equivalent of removing 32,000 private automobiles from the streets of New York City.

I am proud to say that this announcement was shared with the leadership of the New York City taxicab industry, men and women who helm organizations representing virtually every facet of the industry – as well as several members of the TLC’s Board of Commissioners. Those who shared this event with us understood and embraced the Mayor’s vision of a day when New York City would boast the cleanest air in the nation and when children would no longer suffer from asthma as they do today.

In brief, the plan provides that after October 2008, all new vehicles entering the fleet must achieve a minimum of 25 mpg (based on EPA city surface street ratings), and after October 2009, all new vehicles must achieve a minimum of 30 mpg. When fully implemented, the new standards are expected to reduce carbon emissions by more than 215,000 tons.

The milestones below show how this plan will come together over the next few years, resulting in an all hybrid-fleet by October 2012.

  • October 2008 – 1,000 yellow hybrid taxicabs; 
  • October 2009 – 4,000 yellow hybrid taxicabs (30% of the fleet); 
  • October 2010 – 7,000 yellow hybrid taxicabs (53% of the fleet); 
  • October 2011 – 10,000 yellow hybrid taxicabs (76% of the fleet); 
  • October 2012 - all yellow taxicabs will be hybrid (100% of the fleet). 

For many who follow the mission and work of the TLC, its role is clearly significant and important to the City and our visitors.  However, the TLC’s role is often viewed as being involved with enhancing customer service and ensuring the safety of its regulated industries, passengers, pedestrians and other motorists.  But now, thanks to Mayor Bloomberg’s vision and leadership, the TLC – through its policies and regulations – will be taking on a more expansive role in helping our environment by introducing cleaner, more fuel-efficient taxicabs and for-hire vehicles.  We are excited about and welcome our new role in helping all New Yorkers, setting an example for the rest of the world as we fulfill our obligation to help stem global warming, and protect our planet from the repercussions of climate change.  Due to the TLC’s efforts over the last few years, New York City now has more hybrid taxicabs than any other United States City – but more needs to be done – more quickly.  Our “environmental meter is ticking” and we need to move swiftly to our destination!  I look forward to further developing and implementing this plan as expeditiously as possible - together with our regulated industries, our TLC Commissioners and the Mayor’s Office.  I will keep everyone posted – every step of the way.  You can take that promise to the bank – along with all of the “green” that drivers and owners will save by buying and using hybrid-electric vehicles as taxicabs and for-hire vehicles.

Photo by Edward Reed

Photo by Edward Reed

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