West Haven Celebrates New CNG Station, New CNG Taxis

The Ford Transit Connect in Metro Taxi livery

Metro Taxi’s West Haven headquarters has carried out a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the city’s first public access compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station. Metro Taxi introduced Connecticut’s first wheelchair-accessible taxi in 2009, and will soon be home to a fleet of purpose- built, wheelchair- friendly, ADA compliant, low emission taxis known as the “MV-1″ ready to serve the disability community. The new fuel station will serve anyone in the public operating a CNG vehicle.

“We are adding CNG-powered taxis to our fleet to reduce overhead fuel costs, significantly lessen harmful emissions for the environment, provide the public with a modern cab that has expanded head, leg, cargo-room, and reduce our overall dependency on foreign oil,” said Bill Scalzi, president and CEO of Metro Taxi. “The fuel cost savings enabled us to purchase the new MV-1 Wheelchair Accessible Taxi. This business decision is a win/win for everyone.”

In addition to the MV-1, Metro Taxi used the opening ceremony to also launched into service 35 new CNG-fueled Ford Transit Connects, the first of which began arriving a few weeks ago. Scalzi said there is already a waiting list of drivers who want Transit Connect Taxis. “The drivers love the fuel savings that come with CNG along with the overall roominess and the reliability of the Transit Connect taxis,” said Scalzi. “Passengers also love the fact that the new taxis are much easier to get in and out of than traditional car-styled taxis. We are really, really pleased with this new venture of ours.”

By year’s end, Metro Taxi will deploy 110 new CNG taxis, including the Honda Natural Gas, as part of its ambitious project to do its part to decrease its dependence on foreign oil, reduce pollution, and improve the environment. Metro Taxi expects to gradually increase its CNG fleet over time as part of its normal replacement cycle.

By 2012 the CNG fleet is expected to displace about a half-million gallons of gasoline per year, according to Scalzi. That equates to about 10 million pounds of CO2, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. In addition, replacing 110 gasoline taxicabs with new clean-burning CNG cabs will remove more than 2,500 tons of greenhouse gases annually. “The gains to the environment and energy independence will increase exponentially,” said Scalzi.

Natural gas storage vessels being lowered into place, directly in front of the dual compressor skid and gas dryer.

Clean Energy Fuels built the new station at Metro Taxi’s fleet facility at 65 Industry Drive, between Boston Post Road and Derby Avenue, as part of the Connecticut Clean Cities Future Fuel Project (CTCCFF). The station is the first of three to be opened in the state by Clean Energy as part of the statewide initiative.

“We are pleased to extend our natural gas fueling services to this region and to the state,” said Andrew J. Littlefair, president and CEO of Clean Energy. “Adopting clean, domestic natural gas fuel for public taxi use, together with the deployment of new ADA-compliant CNG taxi vehicles, makes West Haven a pacesetter for the new energy future in America.”

“We are excited about this new fleet and station in West Haven at Metro Taxi,” stated Lee Grannis, Coordinator of the Greater New Haven Clean Cities Coalition and recipient of the USDOE grant. “This station represents several ‘firsts’ in our area; the first fleet/public access CNG station in West Haven, the first taxi fleet deployment of more than 100 CNG vehicles in our state, the first commercial taxi fleet deployment in the United States for the new ADA compliant MV-1 taxi built by Vehicle Products Group, the first CNG version Ford Transit Connect deployment in the state by Interstate Ford of Hartford, and, the first Clean Energy station to open in Connecticut,” Grannis added. The taxis will serve the metropolitan cities of New Haven and Bridgeport and over 30 surrounding cities and towns.

“I hope that Metro Taxi’s leadership will inspire others to invest in new technologies – fueling our state’s economic growth and clean energy future,” said Kevin Lembo, Connecticut State Comptroller.

A public/private partnership, the CTCCFF is a coalition of forces and resources, featuring all four Connecticut Clean Cities Coalitions working together under nearly $13.2 million of funding from a U. S. Department of Energy Grant, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Project partners are providing over $16 million in non-federal cost share to the project. The Greater New Haven Clean Cities Coalition, Inc. (GNHCCC), together with more than 30 partner organizations are building a state-wide system that will eventually get 269 alternative fuels vehicles on the State’s roads through incremental funding and providing fueling capability for 21 additional fleet vehicles and the supporting infrastructure for vehicle deployments as part of the CTCCFF.