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Transit Connect taxi now on Boston roads

Posted by Bill Griffith  December 3, 2010 11:55 AM

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(Clifford Atiyeh/Boston.com Staff)

At the New England International Auto Show this week we gave a lift to several Ford executives who were about to hail a taxi. Too bad they couldn't have grabbed the one sitting in the Ford exhibit the floor of the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.

It was the first Ford Transit Connect taxi to go into service in the United States.

The cab, belonging to Boston Cab Co., was on hand for a press preview. It was delivered through Sentry Ford in Medford.

Back in April, the Hackney Carriage Unit of the Boston Police Department approved the Transit Connect for taxi use, making Boston the first US city to do so. As part of the approval process the Transit Connect had to meet basic size requirements for passenger headroom, legroom, and cargo space.

"It fits the bill," said Mark Cohen, the unit's director. "The size, shape, and configuration of this unique vehicle make it comfortable for both driver and passengers."

In August 2009, a federal judge overturned a city regulation requiring all new cabs in Boston's 1,850-cab fleet to be hybrids, an expensive upgrade fought by the taxi industry.

In the interim, however, there are approximately 500 hybrids in the Boston fleet.

"The good part of all this was the industry realized the hybrids will hold up in taxi service," says Cohen. "Now this [Transit Connect] is the manufacturer's response. It's a good alternative."

The Transit Connect also is available with an engine preparation package for conversion to compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied propane gas (LPG).

We noted features such as the repositioned second-row seat to allow for extra legroom, the grab handles and rear HVAC vents with passenger controls, plus the vinyl floors and great cargo space.

With airline surcharges on baggage, many travelers are traveling lighter; however, for those big airport runs with lots of bags, the Transit Connect will be ideal. The driver's amenities include a rearview camera and back-up sensors.

While the Transit Connect won't equal the fuel economy of a hybrid, it should get in the 21-26 mpg range versus the Crown Vic's 15 mpg.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
In the garage: 1995 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (by association)
Bill Griffith is a veteran Boston Globe reporter, having reviewed cars for more than 10 years and serving as assistant sports editor for 25 years. He was also the paper's sports media columnist.
In the garage: 2006 Subaru Baja
AAA's Car Doctor, John Paul John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England, a certified mechanic, and a Globe columnist. He hosts a weekly radio show on WROL.
In the garage: Hyundai Sante Fe, Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible
Craig Fitzgerald has been writing about cars, motorcycles, and the automotive industry since 1999. He is the former editor of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car.
In the garage: 1968 Buick Riviera, 1996 Buick Roadmaster, 1974 Honda CB450
Keith Griffin is president of the New England Motor Press Association and edits the used car section on About.com. He also writes for the Hartford Business Journal and various weekly newspapers in Connecticut.
In the garage: Mazda 5, Dodge Neon
George Kennedy is a senior writer for WheelsTV in Acton, which produces video reviews for Yahoo, MSN, and other auto websites.
In the garage: Lifted 1999 Jeep Cherokee
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