WATERTOWN —Taxi drivers spend more time on the road than the average driver. And with the rising cost of fuel, the cost of doing business has become a lot more expensive.McCue’s Taxi owner Sean McCue wants to change all that for his company. As of Monday, a new car has joined his fleet of 14, and it’s the first environmentally friendly cab in town.
“We’ve decided to make this investment to go green,” said McCue about purchasing a hybrid vehicle. “The way our country is, a change needs to be made.”McCue said he hopes to exchange the rest of his taxis — from used Crown Victorias to Grand Marquis — with hybrids over the next two years.“It should pay for itself over time,” McCue said about the pricey decision.He said the company buys used cars anywhere from $5,000-$7,000, but their new Toyota Camry hybrid costs up to $27,000The difference, McCue said, is that instead of burning only 13 miles per gallon, the new cab runs on 35 miles per gallon
— not to mention being able to cruise under 10 miles and idle in one spot on electric power alone.“I could drive down to the mall without using any gasoline,” McCue said.
According to the state Registry of Motor Vehicles, there are currently 22,353 hybrid vehicles, 711 electric vehicles and 94 smart cars registered in Massachusetts.In Watertown, residents bought 154 hybrid cars so far in 2008, roughly a 66 percent increase from last year.At-Large Town Councilor Susan Falkoff said she has driven a hybrid since 2001, and wouldn’t drive anything else.When Falkoff was first on the council four years ago, she sponsored a resolution that required Town Manager Michael Driscoll to buy most fuel-efficient vehicle. Driscoll now drives a Ford Escape hybrid. Fellow Councilor Jonthan Hecht also rolls in a hybrid.
Dr. William Byrne, a dentist on Main Street, is also one of many local hybrid drivers.“I have doubled my mileage and halved my gas purchases,” he said. “[Hybrids] also teaches you how to drive a little differently.”McCue said making the change in his 60-year old taxi company has been a “big risk that’s worth it.”“The taxi industry will not be able to survive with $5/$6 [per gallon] gas, unless there is a rate increase,” he said. “Some people think I’m crazy and that it’s not going to work, but we’ve got to do something.”
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