Wednesday, August 22, 2007

As Board Sets Hearing Date, EnviroCAB Gets Big Boost

Wow. A proposal to bring hybrid taxis to Arlington is getting a huge boost from a key Arlington County official:
County Manager Ron Carlee has recommended that nearly 60 percent of new taxi operating certificates be awarded to a start-up cab company, a significantly higher percentage than was recommended by the county government's transportation commission.

Carlee's recommendation came in a report to the County Board, which on Sept. 8 is slated to consider issuing new operating certificates for taxicabs. Currently, about 650 taxis are permitted to operate in Arlington.

Carlee recommended Envirocab be given 50 of a total 86 new operating certificates, or 58 percent of the total.

The firm, which currently does not operate in any other local jurisdictions, had asked for 100 certificates; the transportation commission recommended that they receive 35.
I hope the County Board follows Carlee's lead, although as I've written before, I've been underwhelmed by some public statements so far.

Another plug for strong action comes in a letter to the editor in this week's Sun Gazette. Key factoid:
As many people may not be aware, Arlington's permitted taxis emit about 50 million pounds of carbon dioxide into the air each year, significantly contributing to the poor air quality in our county.
So how can you support hybrid cabs? The best thing you can do is speak at the County Board hearing on September 8 at 8:30am. You can't sign up in advance, so you'll have to get there early to fill out a public comment slip, which will get you two minutes to address board members. The full procedures are listed here.

If you're like The Green Miles and you can't make the hearing, you can also
email County Board members. Here's the email I just sent, feel free to lift some of the language for your own email:
If Arlington County hopes to cut its carbon emissions 80% by 2050, the amount scientists say is needed to curb the worst impacts of global warming, we must tackle the two biggest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions -- energy and transportation. While the Fresh AIRE program is boosting energy efficiency and renewable energy usage, we must do whatever we can to promote fuel efficient vehicles.

On September 8th, the County Board has a rare opportunity to cut emissions and improve our air quality by approving as many hybrid taxis as possible. While enviroCAB has taken the lead on requesting hybrid taxi permits, the company is less important than the fuel efficiency. A typical cab vehicle like the Ford Crown Victoria gets just 14 miles per gallon, while a Ford Escape taxi gets 36 miles per gallon.

Long term, I hope the County Board follows New York City's lead and sets a goal of converting its entire taxi fleet to hybrids. While hybrid vehicles are initially more expensive, New York City officials say the increase in fuel efficiency could save taxi operators more than $10,000 per year. Why can't Arlington do the same?
Every email helps! Send yours to now to countyboard@arlingtonva.us.
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