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Boston taxis won't be all hybrids (for now)

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh  August 14, 2009 02:29 PM

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(David L. Ryan/Globe Staff)

Taxis idle by South Station in downtown Boston.

We're not sure whose victory this is — the Boston taxi drivers in beat-up Ford Crown Victorias, the police departments unloading these defunct cruisers on the cab companies, or Ford itself, which only sells Vics to fleets &mdash but one thing is clear: Boston can't mandate an all-hybrid taxi fleet by 2015.

A story this afternoon on reported a federal judge's decision that the city had "exceeded its legal authority" by going above the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, which says local officials can't set their own fuel economy standards. The city may appeal.

It's an odd ruling given that several states, including Massachusetts, have followed California in requiring manufacturers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2016. In January, the EPA granted a waiver to California and its 13 followers, effectively allowing a double standard for fuel economy.

But the big problem in Boston is that the city would bar taxi companies from purchasing used hybrids. Being forced to buy new cars and pay a premium for hybrid technology was a direct threat to many businesses, the Boston Taxi Owners Association had argued.

The ruling isn't stopping Boston Cab Association from moving to an all-hybrid fleet in three years. Currently, two-fifths of its 500 cabs are hybrids, according to its website, a mix of Toyota Camrys, Nissan Altimas, and the new Ford Fusion.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
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8 comments so far...
  1. Boston cabs are way way WAY too expensive. Especially in a town whose public transportation shuts down one hour before most bars and clubs close. They raised the rates when the gas was so expensive. Did they come down when the gas is half the price? NO.

    Posted by Anonymous August 14, 09 07:11 PM
  1. I agree with the ruling, Boston cannot and should not specify either mileage or technology. They should simply require that cabs by no more than 39 months old, causing national CAFE standards for new cars to indirectly cut emissions. Yes, it will make cab rides a little more expensive but it will also make them much safer and much less polluting.

    The medallion system is an ongoing criminal enterprise, and those granted authority to fleece consumers through possession of a medallion need to be forced to serve the public honorably in exchange for their government-granted cash cow by driving safe, clean cars.

    Posted by Old Poor Richard August 16, 09 11:13 AM
  1. Old Poor Richard,

    It's not the medallion owners driving the cabs. It's some poor slob, who pays waaaaaaaay too much for the way bill, hours spent just trying to pay the rent before making what amounts to $8 or $10/hour. The medallion owners are cleaning up, not the drivers, who are also responsible for all gas and maintenance.

    Posted by reindeergirl August 16, 09 08:10 PM
  1. Why are Boston cabs so much more expensive to ride in the NYC taxis yet they are in such worse condition? All NYC taxis are less than 4 years old and all Boston taxis seem to be way over 4 years old.

    Posted by Robert August 17, 09 02:23 PM
  1. When, oh WHEN will the Hack bureau learn that they do not have the authority to set their own CAFE rules, they also don't have the authority to set their own DOT rules. Did anybody notice... in NYC when the judge said to the TLC "you can't make your own CAFE rules"... one article cited the side-impact airbag being hampered by a partition, it was asked of the TLC if despite manufacterers warnings" they were concerned about partitions compromising DOT mandated safety features?" The TLC replied there ARE NO DOT requirements for crash impact tests. How's THAT for a non-sequitor? Epect nothing any more comprehensive from the Boston hACK bUREAU.


    Posted by Steven Crowell August 17, 09 07:42 PM
  1. Boston cabs are currently being compensated for purchase of Hybrid taxis through an inflated taxi rate, one, if not the highest rate in the country. The rate was increased on January 1, 2009. A five mile fare went from $13.95 rate to a $16.20.

    Since the decision was made that the hybrid rules is unenforceable I assume that the politicians will be lowering taxi rates????

    See link:

    Posted by RwM August 18, 09 11:31 AM
  1. Wait till they have to replace the batteries on those hybrids........

    The brand new hybrids are certainly refreshing to ride in but I don't see them paying off for cabbies in the near futures versus a beat up old Crown Vic.

    Since I know absolutely nothing about the cab business; my observation as a rider has been that the cost to ride a cab in Boston far exceeds any other major city (even expensive NYC) and the cabs are more beat up and it makes me wonder how many slimy hands get a piece of that fare before the cab driver gets his share.

    Posted by boston234 August 18, 09 01:07 PM
  1. Boston's cab fares were RAISED on JANUARY 1, 2009 in order to cover the cost of purchasing the hybrid vehicles. Now that the hybrid taxis will no longer be required purchasing, I suggest that the Mayor Menino lower them - OR - recover the overpayments for those that don't drive hybrids.

    The rate went from cost of $13.95 rate to a $16.20 rate (on an industry standard 5-mile ride). A 16% increase!!!

    Posted by Rick August 18, 09 02:40 PM

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Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
In the garage: 1995 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (by association)
Bill Griffith is a veteran Boston Globe reporter, having reviewed cars for more than 10 years and serving as assistant sports editor for 25 years. He was also the paper's sports media columnist.
In the garage: 2006 Subaru Baja
AAA's Car Doctor, John Paul John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England, a certified mechanic, and a Globe columnist. He hosts a weekly radio show on WROL.
In the garage: Hyundai Sante Fe, Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible
Craig Fitzgerald has been writing about cars, motorcycles, and the automotive industry since 1999. He is the former editor of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car.
In the garage: 1968 Buick Riviera, 1996 Buick Roadmaster, 1974 Honda CB450
Keith Griffin is president of the New England Motor Press Association and edits the used car section on He also writes for the Hartford Business Journal and various weekly newspapers in Connecticut.
In the garage: Mazda 5, Dodge Neon
George Kennedy is a senior writer for WheelsTV in Acton, which produces video reviews for Yahoo, MSN, and other auto websites.
In the garage: Lifted 1999 Jeep Cherokee
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