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New York taxi fleet to go all-hybrid

Mayor Bloomberg sets a five-year plan to get hybrid engines running in the city's thousands of taxicabs.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg dropped by the Today show Tuesday morning to talk about cleaning up his city. No, it wasn't time for a get-tough-on-crime talk. Instead, he wants to make the urban air a little less noxious, and maybe give the fight against global warming a little more street-level cred.

Yahoo-labeled hybrid taxicab
The old and new look of cabs in Manhattan's Times Square. (Credit: PRNewsFoto/Yahoo)

Hizzoner used the morning news-and-lighter-fare show to say that by 2012, all of the city's taxis would be hybrid vehicles. "There's an awful lot of taxicabs on the streets of New York City, obviously"--13,000 licensed yellow cabs, 90 percent of them Crown Victorias, according to the account in The New York Times--"so it makes a real big difference. These cars just sit there in traffic sometimes, belching fumes." (Just sometimes?)

"This"--he points to the Ford Escape hybrid that served as the backdrop for the Today segment--"does a lot less. It's a lot better for all of us."

The Escape was provided by Yahoo, which is donating 10 hybrids altogether. Along with the decals touting the Web portal and its green initiatives, the small SUV also sported energy-stingy compact fluorescent bulbs in the advertising light box on the roof.

New York is also working to get newer, cleaner technology into its fleet of buses--and maybe even garbage trucks someday. "Some things they just don't make yet, but we're trying to go in that direction," Bloomberg said on Today. There's also the matter of getting the taxi industry on board with Tuesday's announcement, but as the licensing and regulatory authority, the city certainly has its share of leverage.

So while there's no guarantee that your next ride will be any less hair-raising, pretty soon hailing a cab in midtown Manhattan could at least be a lot more eco-friendly.