San Francisco's taxis go green

Mayor Gavin Newsom announces that 55 percent of San Francisco's taxis now run on alternative fuels.

A fleet of fuel-efficient taxis on the streets of San Francisco have reduced gas consumption in the city by 2.9 million gallons per year and lowered greenhouse gas emissions by 35,000 tons annually, the equivalent of taking 4,700 passenger cars off the road.

When Mayor Gavin Newsom sponsored a green taxi law in 2008 requiring San Francisco cab companies to lower their greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2012, many said the goal was impossible to achieve. But flanked by a collection of green cabs in front of City Hall on Monday, Newsom announced that 55 percent of the city's taxis are now being run on alternative fuels including hybrids and compressed natural gas.

San Francisco City Hall is reflected in the window of a Ford Fusion Hybrid during Mayor Gavin Newsom's announcement that the more than half of the city's cabs now run on alternative fuels.
San Francisco City Hall is reflected in the window of a Ford Fusion Hybrid during Mayor Gavin Newsom's announcement that the more than half of the city's cabs now run on alternative fuels. James Martin/CNET

Gavin Newsom in front of San Francisco City Hall
Almost two years ago, Mayor Newsom sponsored a green taxi law that required San Francisco cab companies to lower their greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. James Martin/CNET

A fleet of hybrid taxis parked in front of San Francisco City Hall Monday
A fleet of hybrid taxis parked in front of San Francisco City Hall Monday as Mayor Gavin Newsom announces that 55 percent of the city's taxi fleet are now running on alternative fuels. James Martin/CNET

Newsom said that there are benefits to cab companies' bottom lines. The green cars require fewer brake repairs, he said. While standard gas powered cabs need brakes almost once a month, green cabs require brake repair just every 6-8 months.
Newsom says the program has benefits to cab companies' bottom lines. The green cars require fewer brake repairs, he said. While standard gas-powered cabs need brakes almost once a month, green cabs require brake repair just every 6-8 months. James Martin/CNET

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom
Newsom at Monday's press conference. James Martin/CNET

Clean Air Taxi Grant
To aid in the transition to clean-powered vehicles, San Francisco developed a grant program called the Clean Air Taxi Grant to encourage cab companies to purchase alternative-fuel vehicles, giving $2,000 per vehicle on a first-come, first-served basis. James Martin/CNET

Mayor Newsom
Mayor Newsom said that back in 2004, the initial participation of the Yellow Cab and Luxor Cab companies, which were the first cab companies in the United States to adopt hybrid vehicles, was an integral part of the implementation of the city's green cab initiative, and that without their enthusiasm for the project, the clean taxi policy might have faced more obstacles, or even failed. James Martin/CNET

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About the author

James Martin is the staff photographer at CNET News, covering the geeks and gadgets of Silicon Valley. When he's not live-blogging the latest product launches from Apple, Google, or Facebook, James can be found exploring NASA, probing robotics labs, and getting behind-the-scenes with some of the Bay Area's most innovative thinkers.

 

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