Proposals put forward to cut emissions from cabs

It may take some green for all of the cabs in The City to go green.

Two proposals have been put forward to increase the fee cabdrivers pay companies per 10-hour shift by at least $12.50. Both are aimed at reducing carbon emissions from cabs by 20 percent by 2011.

Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin introduced a proposal Monday at the Board of Supervisors Government Audit and Oversight Committee that would increase the gate fee across the board by $5 — from $91.50 to $96.50 — and then allow an additional charge of $7.50 if the taxicab is deemed a green vehicle. A separate proposal from Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier differs in that it permits an additional charge of $10.

Taxicab Commission Chairman Paul Gillespie, who is a cabdriver, said, “This is going to take 30,000 tons of greenhouse-gas emissions out of the atmosphere and hopefully put a few thousand dollars in drivers’ pockets.”

Supporters of the legislation say the money saved on fuel from green vehicles would offset the cost of the higher fees.

“It is my contention that the amount of the surcharge would be offset, or more than offset, if you were driving a green vehicle,” Peskin said.

Supervisor Chris Daly said he wouldn’t support either proposal.

“To charge the lowest-earning segments of the taxi industry for a large share of cleaning up the industry is the wrong way to go,” Daly said.

The so-called gate fee is usually a controversial issue. Cab companies have argued they need sizeable gate increases to remain in business, while drivers argue against gate increases without meter increases.

“Just taking money from us without giving us anything more doesn’t work,” said Thomas George-Williams, chairman of the United Taxi Workers, a group representing a group of cabdrivers.

Peskin’s proposal would also set a date of July 2008 for the Taxicab Commission to begin rejecting approval of a vehicle as a taxicab if it’s not green.

The Budget Analyst’s Office is conducting a report on how the proposal would impact drivers’ annual take in time for next week’s committee meeting when the two proposals will be discussed.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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