NYC taxis seek ways to offset oil prices

New York City taxis

TEXT OF STORY

Stacey Vanek-Smith: Oil is back up bit today, but it's still about 15 percent less than it was earlier this month. Gas prices are down a bit too, but I still wouldn't call $4 a gallon cheap. Neither do New York taxi drivers.

Cabbies want to tack a dollar onto every fare to offset those prices. Evidently the 60 bucks it costs to get to the big apple from the airport isn't cutting it. But Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission says the answer lies elsewhere. Jessica Lussenhop reports.


Jessica Lussenhop: Taxi and Limousine Commission chairman Matthew Daus says a surcharge is no solution:

Matthew Daus: We think it's bad policy. Especially with the hybrids coming on to the road. We want the drivers and owners to buy the hybrids. They do that instantaneously, the gas issue goes away.

About 10 percent of New York's more than 13,000 taxis are now fuel efficient. Mayor Bloomberg hopes that the entire fleet will convert by 2012.

Frank Felder is Director of the Center for Energy, Economic and Environmental Policy at Rutgers University. He says cab drivers who switch to hybrids will save money in the long run.

Frank Felder: It is upfront an out-of-pocket expense of an additional $5,000, $6,000, but you're saving about that much per year.

Cab drivers say they need a surcharge now to survive. They may find themselves swapping for a hybrid anyway. Taxicabs are replaced every three to five years, and new cabs must get at least 25 miles per gallon.

In New York, I'm Jessica Lussenhop for Marketplace.

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