Clean Energy Fuels Corp., North American supplier of natural gas fuel for transportation, has hosted a ceremony to mark the opening of two public access compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations in Chicago. Part of a planned Chicagoland network, the new natural gas stations will support growing fleets of taxis, paratransit vehicles, service vans, refuse trucks and shuttle buses powered by clean, green, domestic natural gas.
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., entered into two 15-year contracts with Clean Energy to build and operate the two CNG fueling stations, and supply fuel to the initial TMM CNG fleet of up to 100 vehicles. Included are Ford Transit Connect and Chevy Impala taxis as well as MV-1 paratransit vehicles. In addition to serving the TMM fleet, the stations are open 24/7 for public access, serving downtown Chicago’s business, hotel, shopping and financial districts.
TMM used the occasion to introduce one of its 12 CNG-powered Ford Transit Connect taxis, ordered in January this year and used to deliver T. Boone Pickens, natural gas vehicle champion and co-founder of Clean Energy Fuels Corp., to the event.
As part of his speech at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, TMM’s Levine said, “… we are taking the next step in metropolitan taxicab evolution, the deployment of alternative fuel vehicles. Our new CNG-powered fleet will drastically reduce the impact of rising fuel prices on our drivers. It will benefit the city by reducing carbon emissions, and it will help begin the process of reducing our nation’s dependency on foreign fuel sources.”
Supporting the local deployment of alternative-fueled cabs, the City of Chicago’s Department of Environment has implemented a Green Taxi program, which reimburses taxi companies that purchase vehicles powered by alternative fuels or hybrid vehicles. Chicago cab companies receive from $9,000 to $14,000 for purchasing a CNG car, and $2,000 for purchasing a hybrid car. The program operates on a first-come, first-serve basis and continues until December 31, 2011.
Ford Motor Company says their Transit Connect CNG is also finding entry into other cities across the United States:
- In the Los Angeles area, Yellow Cab of Anaheim and Cabco Yellow Inc. of Orange County have ordered a combined 119 CNG-powered Transit Connect Taxis. The first 50 will be delivered within the next two months. The rest are scheduled to be delivered by the end of 2011.
- In Connecticut, Metro Taxi of West Haven and Yellow Cab Company of Hartford have ordered a total of 70 Transit Connect Taxis that will be powered by CNG and in service by the end of summer.
- Other cities where CNG Transit Connect Taxis have been ordered include Las Vegas and St. Louis.
- Philadelphia is expected to join the list after city officials there recently approved it for use.
This article compiled using information from Clean Energy Fuels Corp. and Ford Motor Company press releases.