City Where the Gas Is Always Greener
posted by October 18 at 13:05 PMon
I don’t drive—but I routinely take cabs. More comfy than bikes, less embarrassing than DUI charges.
But it occurs to me that taking cabs produces more exhaust-per-trip than driving: Most cabs run 12 to 24 hours a day, and most of that time the drivers don’t have a passenger. They just tootle around or idle, waiting for someone to call or hail them, all while the car spews exhaust.
So when I got off the airplane yesterday and the weather sucked, I felt a smidge of guilt as I flipped Metro the bird and caught a STITA Taxi. The company has a monopoly on fares originating from the airport but can’t pick up fares originating anywhere else, so the cabs never carry passengers more than half the time. And then, on the back of the driver’s seat, I saw this:
It turns out, the car is among the majority of cabs in STITA’s 166-car fleet fueled by natural gas, which produces about 70 percent less carbon monoxide (and other crap) than gasoline. A few other STITA cars are hybrids. The company switched over from gasoline in 2006, as required by the Port.
Obviously, STITA isn’t single handedly counteracting America’s impact on global warming, but it did temporarily assuage my liberal cab-riding guilt. And using natural gas is a decent stopgap for the cars that rarely leave the road. Even better, however, would be if Yellow Taxi and Orange Cab hopped on the bandwagon (they have 360 and 170 cabs, respectively), but they probably won’t. Neither will the average local car buyer. Although Southern California, where I just left, has 100 compressed natural gas stations, there are only seven in the Puget Sound region—two of which are publicly accessible. We should really install more. Beginning 2009, Washington will provide a sales and use tax exemption for alternative-fuel vehicles.