Paul Gillespie of Yellow Cab and former president of the SF Taxi Commission speaks at
a press conference held at Yellow Cab announcing the taxi industry has
met its goal to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In the background
from left to right - SF Mayor Ed Lee, Lieutenant Gov. of California and former SF Mayor
Gavin Newsom, and Sal Castaneda, traffic reporter for KTVU News.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, taxi industry representatives, and environmental departments announced Wednesday that the City's taxi industry has succeeded in its goal to significantly reduce the industry's greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).
The “Green Taxi Ordinance”, that went into effect in 2008, requires San Francisco's taxi industry to bring its GHG emissions down by 20 percent of the levels they were at in 1990. And the law requires that the goal be achieved by 2012.
Mayor Ed Lee spoke at the press conference, saying that in 1990, the average taxi-vehicle in San Francisco emitted 59 tons of GHG emissions per year.
Today, the average taxi is estimated to emit about 30 tons per year, since 92 percent of the Cit's fleet is now made up of hybrids or CNGs (Compressed Natural Gas). That's a reduction of 49%, and is said to make San Francisco's taxis the greenest fleet in the country.
“It is equivalent of taking out some 6,890 cars off the highway on an annual basis,” Lee said, adding that cab drivers combined, save an estimated $11 million in fuel costs per year.
Paul Gillespie of Yellow Cab, and former president of the San Francisco Taxi Commission, pioneered the shift towards alternative fuel vehicles beginning as far back as 1997.
“I think we're about a third of the way there,” said Gillespie. “We've got a first generation of clean taxis. I think there's going to be a next generation of clean taxis. And hopefully, in a very short period of time, we'll have a zero emission taxi.”
San Francisco taxis spewed out about 70,000 tons of GHG emissions in 1990, according to Gillespie. That was with a total 821 taxis operating that year. By 2007, he says GHG emissions rose to an estimated 110,000 tons per year, as the number of taxis increased over time.
However, Gillespie says that since 2008, after the Green Taxi Ordinance went into effect, there has been a drop in GHG pollution. He estimates that today, GHG emissions are at 55,000 tons.
There are currently 1500 taxis in San Francisco, with 87 more expected to be issued this year, including 50 part time "single operator" cabs.
Below are more quotes from the press conference.
Ed Reiskin, Director of San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
“In order for Transit-First to work in San Francisco we need excellent taxi service. Because as much as we'd like to see you hop on Muni, or hop on your bike, or walk to get where you need to go, sometimes you need a car.
And from a transportation perspective, the most efficient and effective way for us to be able to meet that need, one of them is through taxicabs.”
Gavin Newsom, Lieutenant Governor of California, and former Mayor of San Francisco.
“This is a win-win-win for everybody. The cab drivers themselves are the beneficiaries of lower gas costs, cab companies are the beneficiaries of lower maintenance costs, and the citizens of the City are beneficiaries of dramatic reductions of greenhouse gas emissions and enjoy a much more sustainable environment.”
David Chiu, President of San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
“There are many things that we still need to fix in the taxicab world. And I do hope that it is through a model of ideas from taxicab drivers from the industry working with City officials to make sure that San Francisco, that we are leading the way when it comes to taxis in America... taxis in the United States.”
Melanie Nutter, Director of San Francisco Department of the Environment.
“Our department staff worked with the Taxi Commission and the cab companies to create the Green Taxi Ordinance that you've heard referred to today. This collaboration resulted in a performance standard requiring that taxi companies achieve overall emission reductions each year, without mandating specific car models.
As long as each companies fleet met the required performance standard at an average level of greenhouse gas reductions each year, they could choose the mix of vehicles that best suits them.
Secondarily regarding education, we created the Green Taxi Vehicle Guide, to help all taxi companies throughout the City identify the cars that they could buy that would meet their required fleet averages.
And then finally we also worked using a tool... specifically... incentives. We were able to work with the Air District as well as the County Transportation Authority to secure grants to incentivize the purchase of hybrid vehicles by taxi companies, in order to achieve the level of emission reductions that would meet the overall goal
Jack Broadbent, CEO of Bay Area Air Quality Management District.
“At the Air District we provided a little over $500,000 for being able to purchase some of the taxis here today. And this is, we think, just step one of a long process moving forward and we're real proud of our partnership.”
Mayor Ed Lee awarding a taxicab with a congratulations sticker.
President of the Board of Supervisors David Chiu awarding a congratulations sticker
on a Luxor Cab.
Ford Transit Connect CNG taxicab is said to get around 21-24 mpg, and about 200-250
miles per tank.
Photos by John Han.