Mayor Tries New Tack for Selling Hybrid-Cab Bill

This is going to be a problem, isn't it? Photo: Getty Images

We’re still two months from Inauguration Day, but the city is already seeing an Obama Dividend. Today in Queens, Mayor Bloomberg, Congressman Jerry Nadler, and Brooklyn City Councilman David Yassky will announce the latest maneuver in their push to get more hybrid cabs on the street. A federal judge invalidated an earlier proposal, ruling that the city doesn’t have the authority to issue fuel-efficiency regulations for cabs, but the determined Bloomberg and Yassky are back with another inventive plan. Two of the new tactics are fairly technical: A rejiggering of the “lease cap” — essentially the rent fleet owners are allowed to charge taxi drivers — to make hybrids more profitable for both owners and hacks, as well as a change in the schedule for vehicle trade-ins that will give owners an incentive to buy hybrids. But the third element is the most politically interesting, because of how it anticipates the shifting agenda in Washington. Nadler will be introducing a bill giving cities the power to write their own (environmentally friendly) fuel rules. Unless it gets tacked onto a Detroit bailout package, Nadler’s bill probably won’t go anywhere — until January 20, 2009, that is. “Obama is promising a new energy and environmental agenda,” a green activist says. “This bill will fit right in.”