NYC’s first electric cabs, 1897

History tells us that in the summer of 1897, the very first taxicab company began operations in New York City. It had 12 vehicles, all of which were electric. I am happy to report that last month New York took its first concerted step “back to the future” with the announcement of TLC’s proposed rules for its Green Rides Initiative, which would require all high-volume trips to be either zero-emissions or WAV by 2030.

Those concerned that the TLC will be requiring them to run out and buy an EV tomorrow can relax; this would be happening over seven years. EV sales in New York roughly double every year, and price parity with ICE vehicles is expected to arrive by 2027 or sooner. A recent report by found that prices for some EV models had dropped as much as 42 percent over just the last year. Right now, EV owners can also get up to $9000 in state and federal incentives and rebates. Some models are already at parity, and development of charging infrastructure is also accelerating.

The potential benefits to the health of our city, our planet, and our driving community are enormous. We see the devastating effects of global climate change every day, and let’s be clear: TLC-licensed vehicles contribute to that, to the tune of 600,000 metric tons of CO2 a year. Under Green Rides, we would have the cleanest fleet in the nation as our drivers save money on fuel and maintenance. Our fleet would literally supercharge the city’s commercial charging industry.

The other important aspect of Green Rides allows for our for-hire fleet to become more accessible. WAV vehicles would not be required to be zero-emissions, because we will not sacrifice accessibility for sustainability. This is important, because currently there are no EVs on the market fully accessible to wheelchairs, although TLC continues to urge manufactures to produce them.

We look forward to feedback and comments at our public hearing on Sept. 20. Our goal is for all of us—the regulator, private industry, and drivers to come together and go green! Uber and Lyft have already committed to this, and the state is requiring that all new vehicles sold in the state be zero-emissions by 2035. Because of its size and influence, our large high-volume fleet should be at the front of the caravan towards a more sustainable and accessible future. It is time for us to make history once again.

See you out there,
David Do
Commissioner, NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission

Article by David` Do

New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission

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