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Cleaner air to come from airport taxis

January 30, 2002

Laura Sturza

AIRPORT DISTRICT -- Cleaner air around the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena

Airport will result from a recent ruling that requires taxis to convert

to low-emission natural gas models, which reduce smog-forming emissions

by 88%.

A South Coast Air Quality Management District rule that became

effective Jan. 1 means taxi operators must buy cleaner-burning vehicles

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when replacing older, gasoline-powered taxis or adding new cars to their

fleets.

"This regulation will benefit the entire breathing public," agency

spokesman Sam Atwood said.

Airports are one of the largest sources of emissions because they

include airplanes, ground equipment and passenger vehicles, Atwood said.

City Cab is the only Burbank Airport operator, with 53 taxis serving

the facility. The company already has 12 low-emission cars and expects to

have replaced the other 41 within two years.

Customers should not see any fare increase as a result of the change.

"There will be brand new cars so we actually expect some business to

increase," City Cab owner Scott Shaffer said. "Therefore, fares should

not go up at all."

The natural gas models pose challenges to his business as well.

"The environmental goals are extraordinary, but the practical everyday

business applications of implementing them are extraordinarily

difficult," Shaffer said.

The cars hold enough fuel to run for 145 miles, where gas models can

run for 260, Shaffer said.

At this point, the specialized fuel is only available locally at

stations in Van Nuys and Glendale. A station is scheduled to open in

Burbank in August.

"But there's no guarantee that the prices will be competitive,"

Shaffer said. Taxi companies will be subsidized by the clean-air agency

with $9,543 per car. The agency projects costs to operators will run

$10,000 per car, with remaining costs to be covered by manufacturer

incentives and government buy-down programs.

"Even with the generous subsidies, we pay twice the capital costs to

buy these cars," Shaffer said.

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