‚ On April 17, the New York City & Taxi Limousines Commission (TLC) did what it said it would do: adopted a regulation requiring new fleet vehicles purchased after Jan 1, 2009 by operators in the ‚black car‚ category to meet a minimum of 25 miles per gallon, and for 30 mpg after Jan 1, 2010.
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Major ‚black car‚ operators such as corporate transportation group and executive transportation group have supported the decision. On the other side of the coin, some ‚luxury limousine‚ category companies are concerned about what the TLC will decide to do next, especially since companies in the luxury limousine category are often considered essentially the same as black car operators with their fleets and customer bases.
Sergio Sanchez, executive vice president of Mineola, N.Y.- Based partners executive based transportation, a luxury limousine operator, testified before the TLC on April 17 on operator concerns about the TLC rules. Sanchez said many corporate clients use both ‚black cars‚ and luxury base operators, and generally want to ride in larger Lincoln town cars, BMWs, Mercedes 550s, and large SUVs. ‚They speak about favoring green cars as long as it doesn‚t sacrifice their comfort,‚ Sanchez said.
Another major concern for partners is that its chauffeurs are independent operators who finance their own vehicles. The cost of hybrids that the TLC has recommended for fleets is prohibitive for theses chauffeurs, and some of there hybrid vehicles lack client appeal. ‚Cars like the prius or the Mercury Mariner are just not acceptable for them,‚ Sanchez Said. ‚Just imagine, Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez (team members of the New York Yankees) in a Prius together.‚
During his testimony, Rodriguez also questioned the reality of higher mileage vehicles having lower carbon dioxide emission than Town Cars. ‚Consider a gasoline-powered car that is rated 25 to 30 mpg stuck in traffic by Wall Street,‚ he said. ‚Its not getting 25 mpg, but emitting greenhouse gases as much as a car rated at 15 mpg.
Similar points were made by Ian Lipton, CCO of Green Ride Global Inc., a Toronto-based company that creates and implements environmental sustainability programs for companies in ground transportations industry, including Partners Executive Transportation. During his testimony before the TLC, Lipton pointed out that reducing idle time to 10% or less, adopting a program to ensure proper acceleration or a reduction in ‚jackrabbit‚ driving, and the usage of aftermarket fuel efficiency devises or conversions to alternate fuels, would reduce emissions to same level, or less than, that of a hybrid vehicles.
For Justin Raymond, president of Green Ride Global, transportation companies and government regulators need to look at four levels of green house gases emissions, and how they should be reduced. The first level is driver behavior modification, which involves reducing vehicle idle time; The second is fleet transition ‚ bringing in the right low-emission vehicles in the right time; the third is monitoring operations facilities, which includes service garages; and the fourth level is future technology and alternative fuels, which can motivate operators to stay informed on what‚s happening in bio-fuel and alternative-fuel vehicles.
The TLC has no plans at this time to bring the luxury limousine category into the 25 mpg rule, said Mathew Daus, commissioner/chair. One of the issues that the TLC has considered is that luxury limousine operators pay more for auto insurance than black car operators, which already makes their operating costs more challenging in New York City.
The TLC has met with the NLA and the Limousine Association of New Jersey to talk about these issues, he said, and leadership from both industry associations seemed comfortable with the situation. The TLC is also moving toward start-up pilot testing programs of vehicles, included in the CNG-powered stretch limousine being created by Empire Coachworks, based in East Brunswick, N.J.
Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago and Dallas are looking at adopting a similar program, but taxis are the main focus right now, Daus said. ‚We may include operators in the livery category (which are usually high mileage Town Cars) under the new mileage rules,‚ he said. ‚We have no current plans to do anything with luxury limousines, but would alert anyone if it were to happen.‚