The City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection has launched a pilot program that allows compressed natural gas (CNG) taxicabs to move to the fast lane at the airports. The pilot is in coordination with the Green Taxi Program that helps the taxi industry purchase cost effective alternative fuel vehicles and reduce carbon emissions.
CNG Taxis may now use the fast lane at the airports, also referred to as the short trip lane, that is typically used for wheelchair accessible vehicles. The benefit to the taxi driver are reduced wait times of up to 2 hours to pick up fares, that will ultimately increase the number of trips made to and from the airports per day.
“This program encourages the use of alternative fuels, and specifically creates an incentive for CNG vehicles. This type of alternative fuel has momentum in building infrastructure, such as local fueling stations,” said Commissioner of the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, Rosemary Krimbel.
To be eligible, CNG vehicles must have an official Green Taxi Chicago CNG sticker affixed to the vehicle. The six-month pilot program will run from August 4th, 2011 to February 4th, 2012.
The City, through the US Department of Environment, received a Clean Cities grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds. The Green Taxi Program uses $1 million in funding from this grant. Through the program, CNG or propane powered vehicles can be reimbursed for up to 100% of the implemental cost, which is between $9,000 and $14,000.
Michael Levine, the owner of Chicago’s Taxi Medallion Management (TMM) and chairman of both Taxi Affiliation Services LLC and American United Taxi Affiliation, Inc., recently entered into two 15-year contracts with Clean Energy Fuels Corporation to build and operate two CNG fueling stations and supply fuel to the initial TMM CNG fleet of up to 100 vehicles. The stations were formally opened last month (July).
(This article primarily compiled using information from a City of Chicago press release)