Today I needed to get across Boston fairly quickly for work, so I grabbed a cab. I was really happy to get into one of the newer Toyota Camry Hybrid cabs that I’ve been seeing in Boston and other cities around the country and started talking to the driver, I really regret now not noticing his name.
I asked him how he liked the hybrid and he said he loved it. He also indicated that he used to pay $25-28/day for gas and now it is more like $7/day. I’m certainly glad my fuel costs are not that high every day.
I’ve heard arguments against cities requiring hybrid cabs before, particularly around them not being rugged enough, so I asked the driver about their reliability. He said he hasn’t heard of any problems, except the Toyota recall, but that the car is smooth, quiet and he repeated how much he was saving in gas money. I take it the cab drivers pay for the gas themselves, so this is a big deal. On the low end that is $18/day savings and assuming working 5 days that is $90/week or something around $4,500 a year in savings.
Then came the real shocker, he told me how many miles he has driven the hybrid, a shocking 48,000 since last October. That’s 6,000 miles a month or 72,000 miles per year. Considering that the average car in the US is driven 12,000 miles per year, replacing just this one cab with a fuel efficient hybrid has the emissions reduction of replacing not five, but six family cars with hybrids!
Having learned this I am even more excited to have learned from Lee that all new Boston cabs need to be hybrids. To be fair, he did share the one downside with the Toyota Camry Hybrid he drives, its lack of luggage space. With all those batteries taking up the trunk space, you can only fit two large suitcases in there which can sometimes be a problem for travelers.
Because cabs travel so many more miles than typical cars and because most of their driving is in cities, they are a great place to focus on technologies like hybrids, which are optimized for stop and go driving. I look forward to seeing how the hybrid cabs fair in the long term when they have been in use for three or more years at 70,000+ miles per year. As a Toyota Camry Hybrid owner myself, I certainly expect and hope they hold up for a long time.
So, the next time you need a cab, consider taking a hybrid if you can. If you some places like New York’s Central Park you can even find a pedal powered taxi. You’ll be having less impact on the planet and enjoy a nice smooth and quiet ride.