At least in Seattle, according to the city’s vaunted Green Ribbon Commission report. As I’ve been yammeringonabout for the last couple of days, 12 mpg is needlessly bad.
For each taxi boosted to just 22 mpg—the average vehicle on the road, roughly—the climate would be spared about 570 gallons of gas and more than 7 tons of carbon-dioxide.* It’d be like taking a car off the road for good. It’d be like upgrading an average car to one that gets 140 mpg. It’d be groovy.
The city of Seattle regulates the taxi medallions. So one good step would be to provide strong incentives to switch to cleaner and more efficient vehicles. Requiring hybrid taxis—which are in use in New York City and Vancouver—might be in order.
Hybrid taxis, by the way, are rated at 36 mpg in the city. So the savings could be more like 800+ gallons of gas and over 10 tons of carbon-dioxide saved.* Multiply that by the 667 cabs in Seattle’s fleet and it’s starting to look like a serious climate benefit.
*My figures are probably ridiculously conservative because they’re computed on the basis of 15,000 miles driven per year. Cabs almost certainly drive far more than that. In fact, the city’s report appears to be using higher numbers. The report, however, doesn’t make clear whether it’s just some cabs that get 12 mpg or if that’s the fleet average.
IIRC, there is no requirement for hybrid taxis in Vancouver, Canada. The taxi companies here are investing in hybrids because the fuel savings pay for the price premium in less than two years. Plus we have provincial and federal tax incentives to help things along.
Eric de Place
Thanks for the correction, Sungsu. I misread the report. (I’ve also now updated the original post to clarify.)
This story just solidifies why Seattle made it onto the top ten greenest (citieshttp://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?p=3225220). According to http://www.earthlab.com Seattle actually comes in 8th. The data compiled is based on a sampling of 1,062,197 U.S. residents who have used EarthLab’s leading Carbon & Lifestyle Calculator (ECP) to begin the journey of embedding green in their lives. The EarthLab ECP factors in an individual’s residence, energy consumption, personal transportation and commute habits, travel schedule, work, recycling and lifestyle habits to establish one’s carbon footprint. The ECP is unique in that it is the only calculator available that allows consumers to save their results upon completion of the three minute test. It then allows the user to make energy saving pledges over time and track the reduction in their footprint.
Matt the Engineer
I think our cities need autorickshaws. They’re more common than taxis in most eastern cities. They take up less room on the road, are easier to get in/out quickly, use far less fuel, and are fun. It looks like Bajaj sells a 4-stroke model for the US that gets 70 mpg.
I doubt that the average of the taxi fleet is as low as 12 mpg.The most common vehicles used for taxicabs appear to be the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptorand the Crown Victoria Commercial.Crown Victorias average 18 mpg in city/highway driving, according to the EPA.
Eric de Place
Alan,I also doubt that the entire fleet average is as low as 12 mpg. But we can be fairly certain that the EPA ratings are too high for older vehicles that are driven almost exclusively in cities. In any case, the city of Seattle believes that many operational cabs are currently doing 12 mpg around town.I’m also told by a reliable source that the city is urging cabbies to switch to CNG vehicles.
Also the vast majority of cabs are much older vehicles. Old cabs represent some of the worst polluters in most cities. Just phasing out the cabs from prior to 1996 would result in much improved air quality.With gasoline at $3+ per gallon and these vehicles doing so many miles per year, they should all be getting 30+ mpg at a minimum.
So what can we do to make sure Seattle starts using hybrid taxis? Also, what’s the latest these days on whether or not the added components in hybrids make them more environmentally harmful than at the end of their lives than standard vehicles?
You guys sure can make a mountain out of a molehill. Find out how many Dodge hemis are in your town, compared to taxis. Far more, and the mileage IAW Car & Driver is more like 9-11 mpg.And I doubt that taxis get as good as 12 mpg, as they are sitting idling a lot and are in stop and go driving. It seems as though we should all be fighting for a higher Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) for auto makers. It is a shame and a further shame in how they count it. A PT Cruiser is counted as a truck for Chrysler (and oddly enough, the PT convertible is counted as a car), so Chrysler can manufacture hot rod pickups and still meet CAFE. (All the manufaturers do this). Both Ford and Chrysler limit how many of their high horsepower (read low mileage) engines in order to meet CAFE. I suppose GM does also.
I wonder if the 12mpg comes from measuring real-world performance? Considering that taxis do most of their driving in cities, and do a lot of stopping, starting and idling, they’re likely to achieve a far lower mpg in use than the rating of the car. [all of which, of course, makes them a prime candidate for hybrid use because it’s exactly the sort of driving for which a hybrid is most beneficial].
influent, 85% of vehicle parts are completely recycled at the end of their useful life. That is old vehicles being recycled now. The vehicles being produced today are designed to be about 95% recycled in 10 to 15 years. scrap metal, reused plastic, etc. There is no issue related to hybrids being more harmful at end of life.
Another taxi stupidity of similar scale are the regulations surrounding trips to and from the Sea-Tac Airport. Thanks to Port of Seattle regulations, Seattle taxis that drop off passengers at the airport cannot pick up passengers to take back to Seattle, so they travel empty. Similarly, airport (“STITA”) taxis authorized to pick up at the airport don’t take passengers on their return trip. And the numbers are pretty big: STITA did 640 thousand outbound trips in 2005; the number of inbound trips was probably similar. I’ve asked several taxi drivers about this, and none of them like the regulations, which as far as I can tell were imposed to save the Port of Seattle authorities from the hassle of deciding which taxi cab companies keep their vehicles clean and safe enough for airport travelers. I’d love to better understand why, with all the fuel savings to be had, the taxicab owners don’t purchase more fuel-efficient vehicles. Is it because the oligopolistic companies that pay for the cabs and their associated medallions have no incentive to care about the taxicab drivers, who are the ones paying for the fuel? I honestly don’t know, but I suspect the wasteful behavior is an unintended consequence of taxicab industry regulation, in which case less regulation might create a solution that helps the environment just as much as any new regulations and requirements you suggest, Eric.
Even though this thread is lacking information about taxi fleets and taxi systems, which might not even be available, I’ll add my guesses to the mixcost bearing structure —as Jonathan suggests, the purchasers are not terribly concerned about fuel consumption, because drivers pay for fuel. If the cab companies paid for fuel, their financial calculations and purchasing decisions might change dramatically, though I don’t think they would.purchase price—there’s a steady supply of used but well maintained hand-me-downs from police departments; purchasing previous fleet vehicles in bulk saves significantly on purchase/transaction costs;maintenance costs—crown vics are fantastically ubiquitous, and uniformity makes repairs and used parts much-much cheaper; taxi companies can even store parts vehicles and do their own repairs; also, drivers can safely and effectively operate different units.size—the cab must be large enough to accommodate the largest expected load; operating costs—between repairs, insurance and other overhead, I’m skeptical that other vehicle types would be cheaper to operate so long as fuel costs are carried by the driver.
My understanding is that BC Provincial Transportation minister Falcon has required that all new taxis in both Vancouver and Victoria must be “hybrid or other highly energy efficient vehicles.” The goal is for all cabs to be hybrid/clean-burning within 3 years. Because taxi cabs have such short lifespans this is possible. I have a friend who drives taxi in Victoria and he says the fuel dollar savings are huge and more than pays for the extra price of the Prius. The Toyota dealer in Vancouver we talked to about getting our Prius said the taxi companies there have standing orders to get as many Prius as they can. Already over 50% of some taxi fleets in Vancouver are hybrids. Up in the rural part of BC where we bought our Prius, the Toyota dealer said the local cab company was the only Prius customer up to that point. They bought them to save money. Prius is perfect fit for big daily km city driving of cabs. This big savings for taxis is true even in Canada where Prius is thousands of dollars (currency adjusted!) more than in USA. In Seattle and elsewhere in States it is a no-brainer for cities to require these for cabs.The one downside to Prius i’ve heard from taxi drivers is that it is hard to get airport luggage for 4 people into the back and sometimes it limits the passengers to airports to 3 per cab as a result.Here is an article about BC rules on taxis: http://postcarboncities.net/node/183
I visited Seattle in October and I was very pleased to see so many Toyota Prius taxis. It seemed like the majority of the cabs I saw were prius.