Unfortunately his 2007 push to convert the fleets met stiff opposition from the taxi cab owners lobby who argued that hybrid vehicles were less safe and more expensive and therefore were an undue burden on the industry.
Bloomberg is still pushing for improvements in the taxi cab fleet as a way of decreasing the amount of carbon emissions. Already about 30 percent of the New York taxis on the road today are hybrid vehicles–a dramatic improvement from where they were 10 years ago, when hybrid cars were mostly unheard of.
There is still quite a way to go. A new plan to convert all existing taxi cabs from the now discontinued Ford Crown Victoria to the Nissan NV200. These new vehicles will offer a slight decrease in fuel consumption, but are still a far cry from the hybrid vehicles Bloomberg had wanted to see in place.
Switching from a Ford Crown Victoria to a Toyota Prius would save taxi cab drivers about $25 a day in fuel costs, given that they drive about 1,300 miles a week. However, the advantages of using the Crown Victoria, which has replacement parts which are readily available and therefore cheap, are not to be overlooked.
Until hybrid vehicles are as common as mass produced fossil fuel powered vehicles it seems unlikely they will ever be considered a viable alternative for taxi cab companies. As for safety standards, all vehicles on the roads today must pass rigid standards enforced by the National Highway Traffic safety Administration, and therefore offer the same level of safety.
When it comes to vehicle safety the difference between a hybrid vehicle or a straight fossil fuel powered vehicle the point is moot. The savings on fuel and the limited amount of carbon emissions simply cannot be argued. It is real and it is coming soon to a taxi cab near you.