Monday, July 2, 2007

Green Alert: Tell Arlington You Want More Hybrid Taxis

Tonight the Arlington County Transportation Commission will hold its annual taxi meeting. It holds special importance for Arlington's environment this year. According to the Examiner, a new company wants to bring dozens of hybrid cabs to Arlington:
Hans Hess, founder of the health-conscious Elevation Burger in Falls Church, is setting his sights on clean air. Hess is now the owner of Envirocab, which aims to be the world’s first carbon-negative taxicab fleet, operating in Arlington.


Envirocab is seeking approval from the county to operate a 100-cab fleet in Arlington, made up of Toyota Prius and Ford Escape hybrid vehicles.


Under law, Envirocab would be required to charge the same fees as other cabs in Arlington, Hess said. The cars used would cost more initially but would be cheaper to operate because of lower fuel costs, he said.

Envirocab’s fleet could potentially offset as much as 60 percent of the emissions produced by Arlington taxis, according to Hess. He said Arlington’s Fresh AIRE initiative, which works with county residents and businesses to cut emissions, inspired him.
The article doesn't explain how the company would be carbon negative, and I think the reporter uses the word "offset" when she means "reduce" in the last paragraph.

The Sun Gazette recently reported Arlington's main taxi company, Red Top Cab, plans to introduce hybrids ... but only five of them in a fleet of 300:
“The urban setting in Arlington is an ideal environment for hybrid/electric taxicabs,” Red Top's Charlie King said in a statement. “The dense traffic conditions prevalent in Northern Virginia result
in vehicles idling for extended periods of time. This is where the hybrid shines.”

King said that Ford Escapes currently are employed as taxis in New York, San Francisco and Chicago, and average 36 mpg in city driving conditions. In comparison, the Ford Crown Victoria - the mainstay of most taxi fleets - averages 16 or 17 mpg in city driving.
Email Richard Hartman right now! He's a Transportation Planner with the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services and the best person to send your comments for the Transportation Commission. Let the county know you want to see Arlington add as many hybrids as possible! If Red Top won't take the lead, then the Commission should support the addition of Envirocab.

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