• Mar 3, 2011
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has fought long and hard to uphold a local law requiring all city cab companies to replace their gas-guzzling Ford Crown Victoria sedans with more efficient livery vehicles. A noble goal, no doubt, but the Supreme Court is having none of it.

The New York Post reports that the highest court in the land refused to hear the case after four years of battles in the lower courts, giving the victory to the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade. The court ruled that federal agencies have the sole right to regulate emissions and efficiency, not the mayor of one town – even if it is the City That Never Sleeps.

When the Supreme Court swings its gavel, there usually isn't another shot, but that likely won't stop Mayor Bloomberg from lobbying Congress to change the rules. The mayor said that local governments are the ones dealing with climate change and energy policy, adding "the federal government seems unable to address those issues."

While the city of New York appears to have lost the efficiency war, the Big Apple can still feel good about the fact that some 4,400 of the 13,237 cabs on its streets are hybrids. And if gas prices continue to jump, we're thinking many of the other 8,000 cabs will follow suit.

[Source: New York Post | Image: Chris Hondros/Getty]


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  • 32 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      Tom you got it right no the dot!!! people are so used to the good that the government does that they forget it and only focus on the bad. i have to say our government is a great multitasker but there are things that i would frown upon. people y'all need to know that not everything is so black and white. by forcing hybrid only taxi you could be putting certain peoples jobs at risk and sometimes it might not be worth it for the whole community.
      • 3 Years Ago
      The Crown Vics might be big on the outside, but the space inside is not that great for such a big car.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Then how does California get away with it? They have had their own set of emission rules for years.
        • 3 Years Ago
        California is a state and New York is a city (in this case). States can regulate emissions but not cities is what this ruling states. Its a boon though 'cause if it did get over turned imagine having different set of emission laws for each city or town you move into? Town A your car is legal, but move into Town C and your car is illegal.
        • 3 Years Ago
        You also have to remember of all the states California has suffered by far the worst when it comes to air pollution in the United States. An automotive instructor I had in high school had a fantastic photo demonstrating just how bad the smog got in LA. It was a photo of him in high school standing on the schools football field, you couldn't see the other side of it due to smog. The Rocky Mountain range acts as a barrier that prevents the smog from disappointing as readily as it would else where. The horrendous smog our state once suffered is why California has such strict emissions regulations.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Not just California; about 1/3rd of the US follows California's emissions standards. But it was more or less settled - or so we thought - in 2009, when the EPA agreed to make the national standard stricter to match that of CARB. Now that the EPA's very existence is being threatened by Republicans in the House, the EPA is holding off on a lot of work. For all we know, lead gas may come back, if Republicans remove environmental restrictions.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Clavius: you are not a lawyer. Don't play one on Autoblog.

        The doctrine of preemption applies to states equally as to cities. Once the federal government has taken on complete regulation of something, no city, county, or state can write its own regulations, as might be in conflict.

        CARB has a special waiver to this, granted by federal law. No other state has the privilege, but any other state may elect to abide by the CARB rules rather than the national standards set by the EPA.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Nearly every cab in San Francisco is hybrid
        • 3 Years Ago
        That's because San Francisco is gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that! I'm just saying that gays and progressives embrace what's hip and trendy. And green is a pretty cool trend to embrace. Thank the gay people for making San Francisco beautiful and fabulous!
      • 3 Years Ago
      Bloomberg is an ass...
      • 3 Years Ago
      Which of the judges ruled on this? All of them, some of them? Who voted for it and who voted against it? Give me a break.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Circuit split probably. Speaking as an attorney, it is likely our circuit court the 9th circuit, has decided that it is legal to allow state regulation, while the 2nd Circuit (which included NY) has decided otherwise. As long as the Supreme Court does not speak on the issue, then the two courts' opinions remain the law in their jurisdictions.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Too bad, the city is still highly polluted. Congrats to Bloomberg for fighting for healthier air.
        • 3 Years Ago
        It's true. In a city environment, hybrids tend to get better mileage, so I don't see how this is a bad idea.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Good! While I appluad the mayor for taking steps to improve the environment, many of his policies and goals are just not realistic or don't take into account many factors. While the Crown Vics are ancient, they are perfect for cab use in the city. They can hold a lot of cargo and have plenty of room for people of all sizes. The Ford Escape hybrid might be ok for luggage but it's a bit tight in the back and the first time I got into a Nissan Altima Hybrid I barely had any legroom. The Crown Vic is also very easy and cheap for the taxi companies to maintain and they have proven they are durable for NYC taxi usage. I'm not sure that many hybrids will be able to stand up to the abuse that the Crown Vics have been built for. A replacement for the Crown Vics isn't a bad idea but Priuses and Camry hybrids are not solution.
        • 3 Years Ago
        RW, its Prii haven't you heard? =P

        But I think getting this nitpicky about legroom in a cab is a little ridiculous. How long are you really in a cab for and you should be going into it knowing its not the most extravagent (far from it) of transportation methods.

        I think lower running costs would pay off better than rear legroom in that market
        • 3 Years Ago
        RW, I'd counter based on a few things. How many people do you see getting into cabs carrying a ton of luggage that would require more space than the back of a Prius or Escape hybrid? I'm sure Altima, Camary, and Ford Fusion hybrids have plenty large trunks. Heck, so of the high-end cab drivers have sprung for Lexus RX hybrids. Out of the number of trips the cabs make, I'm willing to bet that fewer than 5% require any luggage space greater than that of the Prius.

        The problem with the CV is that it's a gas hog averaging 11mpg in cab use. When the first generation Prius came out a decade ago, a cab driver in Vancouver bought one. He recovered the cost of the car in fuel savings in 4 months if I recall correctly as compared to if he had kept on driving a CV. He racked up over 200k miles in 25 months. When the cars put on that many miles, the payback time is very quick. Not to mention, gas is only going to get more expensive making the payback even quicker. So 50mpg vs. 11mpg. With gas here in Cali at $4 a gallon already, it adds up very quickly. Assuming a life of 200k miles, $4 a gallon, the fuel cost difference between the CV and the Prius is $56,727.
        • 3 Years Ago
        mot occasions people needing the taxis don't have to worry about trunk capacity but for those needing rides to the airport or for shopping excursions, the trunk space is vital. As far as the Priuses having more leg room then the Crown Vics, you must've gotten the one non-extended length Crown Vic. The regular length CV has less rear legroom than one would think and then throw in the divider and it's even less. I am 6 feet so it makes a difference. the Escape is usually OK for me but otherwise I am always feeling crammed.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ spdracerut

        The camry hybrid has abysmal trunk space, you should look at one it's really bad. The camry's trunk however is very spacious. I'm not sure about the Altima but I wouldn't be surprised in the least if it was that of the camry.
        • 3 Years Ago
        As a frequent taxi rider, I disagree with you completely.

        The Crown Vic is wider - but that's about it.

        Since you sit higher in the back of the Escape, the legroom feels more spacious in back than in a standard-wheelbase CV - and since the seats fold down in the Escape, I as a single traveler can get more luggage inside the vehicle, and it's easier to haul out of the Escape since there's no deep well in the trunk like the CV.

        The Altima and Prius also have far more legroom in the back than the CV.

        Given the option, I'd rather flag down an Escape, Altima or Prius than a CV - but I'll take a CV before I'll flag a rattletrap domestic minivan...
        • 3 Years Ago
        Don't forget that hybrids have less wear and tear due to regen braking. They only changed their brakes every 50-100k miles instead of every 30k. And the tires last longer too. All these less maintenance costs means more profit to the taxi owner. They loved hybrids.

        Supreme Court can vote differently, but more and more taxicabs are switching to hybrids anyway because it makes a real bottom line difference.

        The mayor did a good thing.
      • 3 Years Ago
      With all the money the city spent fighting it they could have bought a lot of taxis for them.
        • 3 Years Ago
        gerrg: A four year legal battle? The cost to the city was likely several million dollars.
      • 3 Years Ago
      As a life long New Yorker I can say this in all honesty........he's one of the worst Mayors N.Y. has ever had. Underhanded, corrupt & lies about everything. He hasn't done a thing while in offlce but still, that doesn't stop him for taking credit for everything. Oh wait, I'm wrong....he actually did do something! He paid-off who ever he could so he could change the law so he could run for a 3rd term while paying off anyone who'd take his money to make sure he won the election. With all that & he still almost lost! No one wanted him but money talks. We here in NY are counting down the days till he's gone. Here's the best part. Right after he got his 3rd term he changed the law back to what it was before he had it changed. He wants to make sure that no one could ever do what he did and run for a 3rd term. So now, he'll be the only person in NY history to be mayor 3 straight terms. How nice for him.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Well as another New Yorker, I disagree with you completely.

        He's one of the most accountable NYC mayor ever. Did you even read any of the transparency reports of all city agencies and annual reports produced by them at www.nyc.gov? Do you think that without the mayor's mandate all this transparent reporting would happen? Lots of city agencies are corrupt, by forcing them to open transparent bids, there is much less corruption going on. Did you even tune in to his weekly radio show? He gave us 311 and a lot of the technological improvements in services which results in faster service turnarounds. Did you ever call 311 and see how fast that pothole got fixed? The previous administration took 3 times as long or never at all. Because of him NYC is weathering the current financial downturn a whole lot better than a lot of other US cities.

        He's not perfect but the average New Yorker's life has improved during his tenure. Your ignorant comments just show that you obviously don't know what you are talking about.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Make the Crown Vics hybrid. Win-win. heh
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