Hybrid Cities Revolutionize the Streets

Local efforts boost hybrid vehicle use around the country

| September 1, 2005


As the Feds scoff at the Kyoto Protocol, local and state governments have been meeting climate change face-to-face with a host of pollution-reducing programs, including increasing the number of hybrid-electric vehicles on the streets.

Many US cities have featured at least one natural gas-powered bus for quite some years, but it is only recently that they've begun integrating hybrid-electric vehicles into their public transportation systems. New York City brought hybrid busses onto its streets in 1998; currently, there are 180 of them in the city's ever-expanding fleet of green vehicles.

While Vancouver's semi-celebrity cab driver Andrew Grant may have been the world's first hybrid cabbie, New York taxi companies don't want to be left behind. The city, which boasts nearly 13,000 taxis, approved the use of hybrid cabs this summer when it passed the 'Clean Air Taxis Act,' according to The Nation and The New York Times. San Francisco has added hybrids to its taxi fleet as well, while cities like Charlotte, Denver, and Seattle are letting off the gas by greening their municipal fleets. County governments are doing their part, too. Virginia's Albemarle County is accelerating its hybrid vehicle use and has added a few Ford Escape hybrids to its fleet, with plans to bring more hybrids on board in the near future.

State and local governments are taking the hybrid message to their constituents as well. They know Americans love to drive their own cars, so they're developing incentives to encourage individuals to go hybrid. Last September, California passed a law that would allow up to 75,000 hybrid car drivers to use carpool lanes with or without passengers, if federal regulations are changed. Arizona, Connecticut, and Georgia are developing similar legislation, the Associated Press reports. Meanwhile, Eugene, Oregon, is following in the footsteps of Aspen, Colorado, by considering offering hybrid owners parking perks in city and residential areas, according to the Eugene Weekly.



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