Yesterday afternoon, Mayor Bloomberg announced that every yellow taxi on the streets of NYC will go green under the hood in five years. His latest implementation of PlaNYC involves using requirements set by the Taxi and Limousine Commission to have cab owners upgrade their hacks to hybrid vehicles so that the entire fleet will be hybrid by 2012. Yahoo! exec Patrick Crane was on hand at City Hall to donate ten of the new hybrid vehicles as part of Yahoo!'s green initiatives, which seemed pretty nice, but proved that purple interiors can be a matter of taste. Council Member David Yassky (Brooklyn) has been hailing this issue for the last five years. We're glad he finally managed to flag it down.


They were all tricked out with the soon-to-be-mandatory upgrades like credit card payment devices. The spoof door-signs advertising the cab rates were cute, although we don't recommend trying to figure out how they translate. At any rate, these ten cabs will help the city achieve taxi hybrid-ization; here's the timeline for the roll-out:

By October 2008 - 1000 yellow hybrid taxicabs
October 2009 - 4000 yellow hybrid taxicabs (30% of the fleet)
October 2010 - 7000 yellow hybrid taxicabs (53% of the fleet)
October 2011 - 10000 yellow hybrid taxicabs (76% of the fleet)
October 2012 - all yellow taxicabs will be hybrid (100% of the fleet)


Bloomberg stated that by mandating cleaner environmental standards for the 13,000 taxis in the city, it would be the environmental equivalent of removing 32,000 individually owned non-hybrid cars from New York's streets. The Mayor evinced little respect for the federal government that gave up on a plan of incremental fuel-efficiency improvements, and he's picking up the slack:

The Ford Crown Victoria, the current workhorse of the taxicab fleet, achieves only 14 miles per gallon (mpg). 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.
The owner of Taxi Club Management, which has 120 hybrid taxis in its fleet, told AMNY, "Drivers love it." But one taxi driver, who switched from a Crown Vic to a hybrid, explained to the NY Times, in spite of big savings on gas, "The only bad thing is that repairs can be very, very expensive." And a group representing disabled riders was upset that the mayor isn't concerned about taxis that can transport the handicapped, so the News asked Bloomberg about it, only to have him reply, "I'm sure you have found somebody that isn't happy and we appreciate the efforts that you make."

One funny anecdote we heard at yesterday's press conference relates back to the introduction of Yahoo!'s green-city challenge in New York two weeks ago. NYC is already a winner in that we've got ten new hybrid taxis from Yahoo!, but someone less interested in being green than getting some cash unbolted the marquee on one of the cabs and boosted its compact fluorescent bulbs. The theft went unnoticed until the green-cab driver took a fare onto the Long Island Expressway, and under high speeds the under-bolted marquee flew right off onto the side of the road.

Currently, NYC is still in the running to be the most-green city and score some more free cabs, so...instead of kicking the crap of of those four other frontrunners, here are some some tips to be greener.