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 A Message from the License Commission

Apr 8, 2008

License Commission Announces New Hybrid Cabs

Cambridge, Mass. (April 8, 2008) - The Cambridge License Commission (CLC) announced today that six new hybrid taxicabs are in service due to its Clean Air Cab Program.  The environmental initiative is the CLC’s program to reduce the environmental impact of the city’s taxicabs by encouraging a switch to hybrid vehicles.

Older traditional cabs have been replaced by the newer and cleaner hybrid vehicles with the assistance of Whole Foods Market® and cab company Ambassador Brattle.  The CLC is offering $10,000 grants to those cab owners who switch to hybrid vehicles. In addition, Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFMI), the world’s leading natural and organic grocer, donated $30,000 to sponsor the first six new Toyota Camry hybrid taxicabs; Ambassador Brattle owns five of the six hybrid cabs in Cambridge. The $30,000 gift by Whole Foods Market is the first corporate partnership of a city-based hybrid taxicab program in the country.  Three other cities have hybrid taxicab programs, including Boston, Chicago and New York.   

“More and more cities like Cambridge are looking for corporate assistance in bringing new programs to fruition,” said City Manager Robert W. Healy. “With Whole Foods Market’s generosity, the Clean Air Cab Program was able to get off the ground by putting the first six hybrid cabs on the streets of Cambridge. The Cambridge Clean Air Cab Program will help the city meet two of its major goals:  reducing local air pollutions and addressing global warming. And because taxis are so important to the city and so visible on our streets, these clean air cabs will convey a powerful message to people living and working in Cambridge that our business community is serious about dealing with global warming."

By switching from the traditional Crown Victoria to the new hybrid vehicles, which will be easily identified on the streets with their distinctive green stripe and Whole Foods Market logo, the amount of pollution released into the atmosphere will be greatly reduced.
Also, according to a study conducted by environmentalist John Moore along with Boston Cab and the Boston Public Health Commission, hybrid taxicab vehicles saved between 60 and 70 percent of fuel, which translates to big savings for cab drivers that currently use between one and two full tanks of gas daily. Mr. Moore, a Cambridge resident, who helped launch the Boston Clean Air Cab program, says tremendous benefits can be achieved by replacing a traditional Cambridge taxi vehicle with an efficient new hybrid, including improved air quality, reduced oil consumption, fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and cost savings for the cab drivers.

“Small actions taken by many people can make a world of difference when combating something as large as climate change,” said Lee Kane, environmental specialist for the Whole Foods Market’s North Atlantic Region.  “We hope that our action in supporting Cambridge’s move to a cleaner and healthier environment will inspire other people and businesses to make conscious choices about how their decisions can impact our planet.”  

In conjunction with the addition of these six vehicles, the Commission will auction off an additional two taxicab medallions.  Revenue brought in from these auctions will be used to support grants to medallion owners to convert traditional Cambridge taxicab vehicles to hybrids in the future as well as other programs in the taxicab industry such as the Cambridge Taxicab School and the ACT Program which provides Management of the Accessible Medallion Vans.

“It is exciting to see how many cab owners stepped forward to convert their existing cabs to hybrids,” said License Commission Chairman Richard Scali.   “Often the cab industry is only recognized for negative behavior.  This is an excellent example of the taxicab community coming together to better the environment.   The city is happy to assist these conversions with grant funds from the sale of these medallions.”   Additional information on these auctions can be obtained by contacting License Commission Chairman Richard V. Scali at 617 349-6140.


·          The reduction of oil consumption and carbon dioxide emissions are significant benefits of hybrid cab conversions. The Natural Resources Defense Council reports hybrid automobiles reduce emissions of Nitrogen Oxides (NOx)– a key contributor to ground-level smog – by between 73 and 89 percent compared to the traditional Crown Victoria taxicab model. 

·          Hybrid vehicles reduce idling and release less polluting emissions into the atmosphere compared to conventional vehicles in their class. 

·          According to a study conducted by environmentalist John Moore, along with Boston Cab and the Boston Public Health Commission, in Boston with stop-and-go traffic conditions, hybrid cabs have demonstrated 60 to 70 percent  better mileage than a Crown Victoria taxicab that is three to five years old. 

·          The average Cambridge cab driver travels about 100 miles per shift.   Assuming drivers are paying about $3 per gallon for gas, they would save an average of $18 to $21 per shift. As gas prices rise, these cash savings will also increase. (Boston Cab/Moore study)

·          During an average shift a Cambridge hybrid taxi will use between three to four gallons of gasoline as opposed to 10 gallons or more, which is burned by an outdated Crown Victoria taxicab (Boston Cab/Moore study).

·          A traditional Crown Victoria earns an EPA Greenhouse Gas score of five and hybrid vehicles earn a score of between eight and ten. Assuming average driving patterns for Cambridge taxis, replacing just one traditional Crown Victoria with a Toyota Camry hybrid will save more than 20 tons of CO2 emissions per year (Boston Cab/Moore study).

·          In addition to environmental benefits, the reduction of fuel needs for the hybrid taxicabs will help drivers save money and in turn run a more profitable business.



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