Slightly more than a quarter the existing taxi fleet is made up of hybrid vehicles already. Photo: Brian Snelson via flickr.
A quick (and hopefully not final) update in the ongoing legal saga around New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to convert the city's taxi fleet over to hybrid vehicles. As the New York Times reports, a federal appeals court has upheld a 2009 court ruling, supporting taxi fleet owners who objected to the mandate. Should the city wish to continue pushing the issue, it would have to take it all the way to the US Supreme Court.Taxi Fleet Owners Objected, and Objected
Back in 2007 the city issued a rule stating that any new cabs put into service after October 2009 would have to get at least 30 miles to the gallon in ordinary city driving. The average cab today, the ubiquitous Ford Crown Victoria, gets no more than 14mpg. Taxi owners objected and a federal judge blocked the ruling.
The city introduced a modified ruling in March 2009, replacing the fuel efficiency requirement with incentives for greater efficiency vehicles, which was also objected to by taxi fleet owners--the courts shut down the new rule on the grounds that "the city's rules were preempted under both the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act and the federal Clean Air Act." The city appealed, and today lost.
Court Says Federal Law Preempts City's Authority
Basically the court has said that the city doesn't have the authority to mandate fuel efficiency standards for the taxi fleet, no matter how they are described, either as straight standards or as incentives structured to support better efficiency.
Currently about 28% of the total NYC taxi fleet is composed of hybrid or other vehicles with high fuel efficiency. The Mayor's plan would have meant that effectively the entire taxi fleet would have been converted to hybrids by 2012.