Thursday, January 27, 2011

Super Bowl week taxi boycott in Dallas

Cab drivers in Dallas are so angry over city government-sponsored discrimination that they are organizing a boycott just as the Super Bowl Circus descends, according to the Wall Street Journal:

The drivers, outraged by a city initiative that sends natural-gas-powered cabs to the front of the queue at Dallas's Love Field airport, are organizing a boycott that would make it more difficult for visitors to get around North Texas for the big game a week from Sunday. The Association of Taxicab Operators USA, with 700 members in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, is threatening to park their cars starting Thursday if the policy isn't dropped.

Drivers say they sit for hours at the back of the line. They say the promotion of cabs powered by compressed natural gas isn't just about clean air, but an effort to boost Texas's natural-gas industry. Otherwise, they ask, why didn't it include hybrid vehicles?...

The natural-gas program was created to help Dallas meet federal air-quality standards it had violated for years and displace foreign oil at the same time, all without the city spending a dime, [Mayor Tom] Leppert said in a recent interview. "It is almost a renewable source of energy," he said of the nation's abundant supply of natural gas, some of it trapped right under the Dallas metropolitan area.

Mr. Leppert admits that the 87 natural-gas cabs registered so far—out of the 1,840 taxis permitted by the city and the 1.9 million vehicles registered in Dallas County—won't make much of a difference at first. But he hopes to start a trend.

Or maybe he is part of a trend. San Francisco drivers howled when the city's airport sent CNG taxis to the head of the line four times a day in 2003. Officials scaled back the privileges to twice day—angering the natural-gas cabbies. Now, with many of the city's taxis powered by hybrid gasoline-electric systems, the airport said, San Francisco plans to phase out the program. In New York, cab companies defeated Mayor Michael Bloomberg's 2008 plan to replace the city's ubiquitous Crown Victorias with hybrid vehicles.

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