On Earth Day, former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley announced that the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection would begin to reimburse taxi companies that use hybrid vehicles or alternative fuel vehicles as part of a new Green Taxi Program. The taxi companies will be eligible for a $2,000 reimbursement for buying hybrids and a reimbursement between $9,000 and $14,000 for converting cars to compressed natural gas or propane.
“The Green Taxi Program provides an incentive to the taxi industry to reduce carbon emissions,” explained Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Commissioner Norma Reyes, who was also present for the Earth Day celebration in Daley Plaza. “Alternative fuel and hybrid taxis provide numerous benefits including lower fuel costs for drivers and improved air quality.”
Daley’s announcement comes at a time when gasoline prices in Chicago have been more than $4 per gallon for months. In fact, a Lundberg Survey ranked Chicago as the city with the most expensive gasoline in the country due to $4.50 per gallon prices throughout the metro area in April. Meanwhile, taxis powered by gasoline have authority to charge a $1 fuel surcharge as long as gasoline prices are above $3.20 per gallon.
The city hopes the Green Taxi Program will be an opportunity to reach a goal of increasing the number of hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles by making it more affordable for owners to purchase such vehicles. The movement toward alternative fuel vehicles is part of the city’s efforts to reach carbon emission goals set out in the Chicago Climate Action Plan.
“The City of Chicago is committed to supporting these efforts and providing financial and operational incentives to offset the higher initial cost price of these vehicles,” said Reyes.
Funding for the city’s Green Taxi Program comes from $1 million in grants available through the U. S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program and provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The City of Chicago’s Department of Environment applied for and received the grants.
“In Partnership with the Clean Cities Coalition, the City of Chicago applied for grants to build green infrastructure such as compressed natural gas and electric charging stations around the city. In building infrastructure, however, you also need to bring users, and that is why we also applied for grants to provide incentives to individuals purchasing green taxis,” said Suzanne Malec-McKenna, commissioner of Chicago’s Department of Environment.
For more information about Chicago’s new Green Taxi Program, see the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection’s informational flyer.