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Originally published May 23, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified May 23, 2007 at 2:01 AM

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Yellow-cab fleet going green

Every yellow cab in this city will be a fuel-efficient hybrid by 2012, and stricter emissions and gas-mileage standards for taxis will be...

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Every yellow cab in this city will be a fuel-efficient hybrid by 2012, and stricter emissions and gas-mileage standards for taxis will be phased in starting next year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday.

There are now 375 hybrid vehicles among the 13,000 taxis rolling on New York streets. Under Bloomberg's plan, that number will increase to 1,000 by October 2008 and will grow by about 20 percent each year until 2012.

"There's an awful lot of taxicabs on the streets of New York City," Bloomberg said. "These cars just sit there in traffic sometimes, belching fumes.

"This does a lot less. It's a lot better for all of us," he said of the hybrid plan.

Hybrid vehicles run on a combination of gasoline and electricity, emitting less exhaust and achieving higher gas mileage per gallon. Hybrid models tested include the Toyota Prius, Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Lexus RX 400h and Ford Escape.

The standard yellow-cab vehicle, the Ford Crown Victoria, gets 14 mpg; in contrast, Ford Escape taxis get 36 mpg.

Automakers said hybrids are uniquely well-suited to be taxis. Many of them, like the Escape, run solely on battery power while stopped or at low speeds, so they don't cough exhaust while navigating through city traffic. At higher speeds, the gas-powered drive system kicks in and the two work together.

In addition to making the yellow-cab fleet entirely green within five years, the city will require all new vehicles entering the fleet after October 2008 to achieve a minimum of 25 mpg. A year later, all new vehicles must get 30 mpg and be a hybrid.

Bloomberg made the announcement on NBC's "Today" show.

Hybrid vehicles are typically more expensive, but the city said the increase in fuel efficiency will save taxi operators more than $10,000 per year.

The government does not own the city's yellow cabs, but sells licenses to individual drivers and operators, who must purchase their own vehicles that meet the specifications of the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

Shifting the taxi fleet to hybrids is part of Bloomberg's wider sustainability plan for the city, which includes a goal of a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. Part of the plan could include congestion pricing for drivers entering some of the busiest parts of Manhattan.

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