A federal judge ruled today that NYC can’t force taxi operators to switch to hybrid technology. The city has over 13,000 yellow taxicabs. Nearly 1,500 of them are already hybrids because their owners decided, because of market pressures instead of government pressures, to use hybrids.
The rule that NYC was trying to enforce would have required all taxicabs coming into service achieve a fuel-efficiency city rating of 25 miles per gallon or higher, rising to 30 m.p.g. by Oct. 1, 2009. The Crown Vic, workhorse of the taxi fleet, gets 13 mpg.
The judge ruled that the Federal Clean Air Act mandates that regulation of fuel economy and emissions standards are solely within the realm of the federal government and that New York City was preempted by federal law. This preemption debate has led to a number of disputes between states and the federal government, with this being the latest.
Mayor Bloomberg declared:
The decision is not a ruling against hybrid cabs, [it is] rather a ruling that archaic Washington regulations are applicable and therefore New York City, and all other cities, are prevented from choosing to create cleaner air and a healthier place to live.
While Ron Sherman, president of the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, said in a statement:
Millions of people who ride taxicabs and the thousands of drivers, owners and other participants in the New York City taxi industry can breathe a sigh of relief today as this ill-conceived hybrid taxi mandate, which had not properly taken safety, comfort, availability and other issues into account when it was rushed through last year, will not go forward as planned. By granting this injunction, the court has affirmed what numerous groups, associations, state and city legislators, former T.L.C. commissioners, drivers and others have argued for a long time.
M.T.B.O.T. has always preferred that this issue be settled out of court. However, after exhaustive efforts at the T.L.C., we were given no choice and were compelled to advocate on behalf of the safety of our passengers and drivers. Now that the court has ruled in our favor, and indeed — in the taxi passengers’ and taxi drivers’ favor — we look forward to working with the Taxi and Limousine Commission and our colleagues in the taxi industry to ensure the continuity of safe, effective, comfortable taxi service for the riding public, ensure a strong and healthy industry and achieve a fuel-efficient, safe, comfortable taxi of tomorrow.