With the city's initiative to help green the taxi fleet six months old, the NY Times spoke to the drivers of hybrid cabs to the get the skinny on how well it's been working out.
Currently, only 7.8% of the 13,000 city taxis are hybrids. Most are Ford Escapes, and one owner of his Escape cab, Gerard Cherizol, said he pays only $20/day on gas these days (he used to pay $45/day with the Crown Vic). He also said it has more luggage space, is more visible and "it’s so fast, I pass like a little bird on the highway.”
However, some older taxi fares aren't fans of climbing up into the Escape. Some hacks express worries about the plastic partitions in the Escape, which basically enclose the driver from the rest of the car--some are worried they'll be trapped if the driver's side door doesn't work. Other complaints include how hybrid repairs can be more costly and can take longer (because mechanics aren't as familiar with them) and the fact that there's generally less legroom for passengers.
Still, the TLC tells the Times their studies have shown "fewer problems during regular inspections with hybrids, compared with nonhybrids." Overall, the city wants the entire taxi fleet to be hybrid by 2012. And less legroom in exchange for better air sounds like a decent swap.