(Erik Jacobs for The Boston Globe)
By Globe Staff
All Boston taxis will be required to be hybrids by the year 2015, the mayor and police commissioner announced today.
Mayor Thomas Menino said in a statement that requiring taxis to go hybrid will be "an essential step" in improving air quality.
The city said it was also implementing new standards intended to improve taxi service for residents and visitors.
Marckinson Charles, 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."
The association, which includes 360 to 370 taxi owners, has a few members with hybrids. Mostly, they use Ford Crown Victorias. Charles said 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.
The mayor's office said the new standards that would go into effect in January would require, among other things, that every cab be equipped for credit card payments, and would ban non-essential cellphone use by drivers.
The city also announced that Police Commissioner Ed Davis had approved a rate adjustment for drivers to offset rising fuel costs.
Rates will rise from $13.95 for five miles to $16.20. Previously, the first 1/8 mile had been $2.25 and additional 1/8-mile segments cost 30 cents. Under the new rates, the first 1/7 mile will be $2.60 and additional 1/7-mile segments will cost 40 cents.
George Bachrach, president of the Environmental League of Massachusetts, wrote in a July op-ed that taxi drivers deserved a raise after six years without one, but that they should also be required to drive hybrids.
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