All Boston taxis are being required to go hybrid. The changeover will start now and it is anticipated that within two years more than 50% of the fleet will be hybrid. It is required that by 2015 100% of the fleet is hybrid.
Police Commisioner Ed Davis and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino made the announcement. Along with the hybrid requirement, taxis in Boston must also be equipped with credit card processing.
"Requiring taxi cabs to go hybrid is an essential step in not only improving air quality but also improving the quality of our taxi fleet," Boston Mayor Menino said. "I am confident that these new regulations will greatly improve taxi service in Boston for all residents and our many guests."
But not everyone is excited about the change. The president of the Independent Taxi Operators Association said, "We're not ready for this. ... If by 2015, we all have to have hybrids, we have a problem."
He went on to note the hybrid Camry's trunk space is too small for taking travelers and their luggage to and from the airport. He also said that hybrid car batteries would need to be replaced every few years, estimating the cost to owners at $5,000 each time.
Which just goes to show you he doesn't know what he's talking about. Hybrid car batteries DO NOT need to be replaced every few years. Yes, there is a small rate of failure, but you just have to look at the success they've had in NY and other cities to know hybrid cabs can be successful.
Rates will also increase because of fuel costs.
The hybrids will replace current vehicles over the next six years as the mandatory age limit on cars pass them by. The hybrids are estimated to reduce carbon emissions from the taxi fleet by 50% and will save taxi drivers $1,000 a month in fuel costs.
In addition to the hybrid requirement, the following new standards must be implemented and will be strictly enforced as of January 1, 2009:
* Be Equipped for Credit Card Processing: all taxicabs shall be equipped with an electronic credit card processing capability. Such equipment shall allow the passenger to swipe the card in the rear compartment of the taxicab without handing the card to the Driver. Such equipment shall list fare, tolls, fees, and tips separately for processing purposes. Such equipment shall have the ability to electronically authorize the transaction in a timely manner.
* Be Equipped with Required, Customer-Friendly Signage including a Roof Light: The Driver of a Hackney Carriage shall display current fare rate cards on the inside of the vehicle, in clear view of the passengers. The cards indicate the current rate of fare as approved by the Police Commissioner. These Rate Cards shall include the: Fare Rate Card; Logan Airport Special Emergency Conditions; Logan International Airport Fees and Tolls; and Transponder Card.
* In addition, all Licensed Boston Hackney Carriages being newly placed into service shall mount on the roof a taxi roof light, that shall indicate at all times the status of the vehicle.
* Be in Clean Condition: The Medallion Owner or Lessee must ensure the vehicle is clean at all times. The exterior of all Taxicabs shall be washed daily. The interior (Driver’s compartment, rear seat area and trunk) shall be vacuumed; the windows and partition washed, and seats wiped daily. No Shift Driver shall be made to pay for washing or cleaning of the vehicle exterior or interior. No Shift Driver shall be made to hand wash a vehicle.
* No Cellular Phone Usage: A Hackney Carriage Driver may not use a cellular telephone for any purpose, including text messaging, while the Hackney Carriage is occupied by a passenger except in emergency situations, to verify a passenger’s destination, or to receive a call for service. Utilizing a cellular phone while transporting a passenger jeopardizes public safety, the passenger’s safety, and hinders the passenger’s ability to communicate with the Driver and other passengers.
* Driver Appearance: Every Hackney Carriage Driver having charge of a licensed taxicab in a public place shall be suitably and professionally dressed, neat and clean in appearance. No ripped or torn clothing or clothing imprinted with profanity, offensive language or offensive images is allowed while a Hackney Carriage Driver is in charge of a Hackney Carriage. The following articles of clothing are considered inappropriate when worn as an outer garment and are not permitted, when the Hackney Carriage Driver, male or female, is in charge of a licensed Boston taxicab: T-shirts; underwear; tank tops; body shirts; swimwear; jogging suits or similar types of attire; bathing trunks; or jogging shorts.
In addition, Commissioner Ed Davis has approved a rate adjustment for taxi drivers in response to increasing fuel cost. Drivers will receive an increase in fare. The following information demonstrates the approved difference.
Rate Comparisons: Industry Standard 5 mile
Boston Former 5 Mile $13.95 rate 1/8 Mile Increment $0.30 1st 1/8 Mile $2.25
Boston Current 5 Mile $16.20 rate 1/7 Mile Increment $0.40 1st 1/7 Mile $2.60
The Boston Police Hackney Carriage Unit currently licenses 1,825 medallions. There are approximately 5,500 drivers and taxis travel approximately 100,000 miles a year. Lastly, the Boston Police Department encourages customers to contact the Hackney Unit via a newly created email account with any complaints related to taxi service, firstname.lastname@example.org.