Green taxi ordinance on its way to full board

By 2012, San Francisco's 1,500 taxicabs would be running greener — if The City approves a law allowing cab companies to charge its drivers more per shift.

The Clean Taxi Ordinance, scheduled to come before the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday for a vote, would increase the gate fee — the charge drivers must pay cab companies per 10-hour shift — from $91.50 to $96.50, and an additional $7.50 charge if the cab is a green cab. With a low estimate of 700 shifts per year, that would mean a cost increase of at least $3,500 for the cabdrivers.

The increased gate fee would be allowed on only “green vehicles,” however; further the ordinance would require taxicab companies to reduce the carbon emissions from cab fleets by 20 percent from 1990 levels by 2012.

Advocates of the bill, which includes several cab companies, argue that the proposal is at the very least cost neutral, the increase in fees being offset by the savings drivers would see at the gas pumps.

A Budget Analyst report says that a green cab would result in gas savings of about $12 to $15 per shift, although an author of the bill, Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval, said that the gas savings estimates were “conservative.”

The proposal has nonetheless drawn criticism from some cabdrivers who object to an increase in fees without any increase to the meter. San Francisco’s cabs are already among the most costly in the nation, making a meter increase an unfavorable proposal.

Cabdriver Barry Taranto opposed the bill.

“Until we resolve the problems of the industry, it’s difficult to just raise the gate and think we can just eat it,” Taranto said. “What about the cabdrivers’ cost of doing business? I have not been to a doctor for a checkup in years.”

jsabatini@examiner.com

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