Photos by Bill Wilson
Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel
Flanked by several hybrid taxicabs, Mayor Newsom today urged the City’s Taxi Commission to approve a resolution that gradually reduces, offsets, and eliminates greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in taxis by 2020.
In his 2006 State of the City Address, Mayor Newsom pledged to convert 100% of San Francisco taxis to hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles by 2011. This resolution would provide the mandate to help achieve that goal and take it even further.
The resolution specifically requires the San Francisco taxi industry to reduce its total greenhouse gas emissions by 50% from current levels and 20% from 1990 levels by 2011. Recent estimates show that converting the City’s taxi fleet to hybrid or compressed natural gas vehicles is expected to reduce taxi emissions between 30-60%.
Even with a 20% reduction of greenhouse gases from 1990 levels, the San Francisco taxi fleet will still produce over 30,000 tons of GHG per year. Therefore, the resolution calls for investments in renewable energy or efficiency as well, which provide a mechanism for the taxi industry to significantly offset its GHG emissions.
Under the resolution, the San Francisco Taxi Commission further commits to;
• By 2015, achieve zero net carbon emissions by offsetting the total amount of GHG emissions produced by the San Francisco taxi fleet with an equal amount of renewable energy or energy efficiency.
• By 2020, achieve zero gross GHG emissions by permitting only zero emission vehicles.
• Urge the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to enact legislation to raise the per-shift gate fee to subsidize the purchase of high-efficiency vehicles.
• Create a working group on GHG reduction, offset, and elimination to evaluate and suggest policies to implement this legislation.
“We cannot continue to play within the margins when it comes to climate change,” said Mayor Newsom. “San Francisco must continue to be a leader on environmental issues, and that means converting not just our city fleet, but also our taxis.”
“This proposal takes action to reduce, offset, and eliminate greenhouse gases appropriate in scope and timeframe to the urgency of the problem,” said Paul Gillespie, President of the Taxi Commission.
“It will put thousands of dollars in drivers pockets, while taking tens of thousands of tons of greenhouse gas pollution out of the atmosphere.”
“The benefit from applying environmental standards to a taxi fleet is that the entire fleet turns over every three to four years, making it possible to have a 100% clean fleet by 2011,” said Heidi Machen, Executive Director of the Taxi Commission.
“And, this means that approximately 1400 vehicles – our taxis – operating around the clock on our streets, will be a model for all auto users and vehicle fleets around the country.”
Currently, San Francisco has a fleet of 1,381 taxis citywide, and the average San Francisco taxi travels 75,000 miles per year and emits 50 tons of greenhouse gas.
Today, approximately 210 vehicles in San Francisco’s taxi fleet are either Compressed Natural Gas or hybrid vehicles (175 CNG, 35 hybrid vehicles).
Mayor Newsom’s Climate Action Plan announced in 2004 commits the city to reducing greenhouse gas emission levels to 20% below 1990 levels by the year 2012. In addition, San Francisco’s own City fleet includes more than 800 alternative fuel or hybrid vehicles.
Bill Wilson is a veteran freelance photographer whose work is published by San Francisco and East Bay media. Bill embraced photography at the age of eight. In recent years, his photos capture historic record of the San Francisco LGBT community in the Bay Area Reporter (BAR). Bill has contributed to the Sentinel for the past two years.
From the Mayor’s Office of Communications