Program to Upgrade Airport Taxis to Fuel-Efficient Models Under New Proposal

A new plan that would propose airport-based cabs trade in their older cars for newer, fuel-efficient cars was approved Wednesday.

San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox proposed the pilot program to the Board of Supervisors and the board approved the $360,000 plan. The Board members also sit as the County Air Pollution Control District.

The program means that taxi cabs operating at the airport with a permit would be able to upgrade their older cars for newer, more fuel-efficient cars. They would be able to trade in their cars for a hybrid, CNG or alternative fuel taxis.

After purchasing these vehicles, owners would receive a $3,500 to $4,000 rebate in addition to paying a reduced airport fee for converting to the alternative fuel vehicle.

Taxi cab drivers that spoke to NBC 7 said the plan was a good idea, but their only concern was in the safety of newer models.

Cox said that more than 350 taxis operate at the airport, driving about 100,000 miles each year. The taxis produce more pollution than an average car and the new plan could bring about a three to five ton reduction in harmful air pollutants each year.

Though 271 taxis of the estimated 354 operating from the airport have already upgraded to newer, more fuel-efficient models, Cox said many are still driving older models that produce pollution.

The money for the program comes from a $4 annual fee the Department of Motor Vehicles collects from vehicle registrations and gives to the local government.

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