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By Samuel R. Avro on Aug 16, 2009 with no responses

Judge Strikes Down Hybrid Mandate for Taxi Companies

2007 Escape Hybrid TaxiA ruling that requires all cab owners in Boston to change over to an all-hybrid fleet has been overturned. According to US District Court Judge William G. Young, the one year old ruling that Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino instated was a violation of an act of Congress.

The ruling caused a stir among taxi owners who were worried that having to switch over to hybrid vehicles would do serious harm to their business and cost them thousands of dollars. According to Judge Young, the Mayor’s decision went against the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975. The act prevents local government officials from declaring their own standards, and also sets forth fuel economy standards.

The overturning of Mayor Menino’s ruling sent a feeling of relief through members of the Boston Taxi Owners Association. According to Paul H. Merry, the lawyer for the BTOA, “The cab operators have wanted from day one to support the city’s efforts to protect the environment. But those efforts need to be conducted in a way that does not deprive people of jobs.” Mr. Merry does expect that the city will attempt to take the ruling to the US Court of Appeals, but hopes that there will be a chance for talks between the Mayor and cab drivers.

“We’re always amenable to discussions,” says William F. Sinnott, who is the counsel for the city. “We appreciate Judge Young’s thoughtful consideration of the issue.” He also says that the city is “reviewing his memorandum and order, and we will meet with our clients shortly and assess our next steps.”

Merry also said that some of the cab companies might be willing to go green with their fleet if the city would be more flexible on several other rules that they have put in place, such as mandatory installation of certain types of credit card machines.

One of the major complaints against the mayor’s ruling is that the regulation would require the hybrids to be purchased as new vehicles rather than used. Requiring cab companies to purchase new vehicles would cost far more than buying used, putting even more unnecessary strain on cab owners.