Greening Boston Taxis: Gas Guzzlers or Hybrids

With support from the Cook Trust, ELM has partnered with the City of Boston in their efforts to convert Boston’s taxi fleet to fuel efficient hybrids. In 2008, ELM President George Bachrach testified at city hearings on taxi rate increases arguing that rate increases required a better (and greener) ride. Bachrach also wrote a Boston Globe op-ed piece in support of the city’s efforts.

Later in 2008 the City of Boston, following similar action in New York City, issued an order requiring Boston taxis to convert to hybrids by 2015. While many medallion owners were supportive, some filed suit in federal court. Both the NYC and Boston orders were struck down by the court on the grounds of federal “preemption”. Only the federal government can regulate auto emission standards. As a result, ELM has worked with the City on two alternatives: first, the City is offering incentives to taxi owners to voluntarily convert to hybrids. Second, Boston, NYC, San Francisco and others have successfully gotten the Green Taxi Act of 2009 included as a portion of Senators Kerry and Boxer’s omnibus climate change legislation in the US Senate. This provision would allow municipalities to regulate taxi fleet emissions, resolving the preemption issue. We’re hopeful this provision will be retained as the bill moves through the process.

July 12, 2008 -Boston Cab drivers haven’t had a pay raise in six years, and they deserve one. It’s a tough, sometimes dangerous way to make a living, and no one’s getting rich behind the wheel. But in the days ahead, as the Boston Police Department considers a fare increase, drivers and owners are not the only players who should be at the table. Consumers have rights here too.

April 6, 2009 - Boston's requirement for taxis to go green is rigid: All 1,825 licensed taxis must be powered by hybrid engines by 2015. But the city approach to its own fleet of 3,300 cars, buses, and trucks is more relaxed, with no timetable in place. The city's lack of specific goals is reflected in its national standing. Boston trails many of the nation's largest cities in the use of hybrid or alternative-fuel vehicles.

June 23, 2009 - Dealing a potential blow to Boston’s plans, too, a federal judge has blocked a push by New York City to replace gas-guzzling taxis with fuel-efficient hybrids, ruling yesterday that city officials overstepped their legal bounds. In a 37-page ruling, US District Court Judge Paul A. Crotty said the New York City effort would preempt federal jurisdiction over mileage and emission standards.








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