Taxis going green in Banff
Banff’s cabs are going green.
Banff Transportation Group – which operates two separate companies, Taxi Taxi and Banff Taxi – plans to voluntarily get rid of its old sedans to reduce emissions.
“We agree to provide a transportation system that is more environmentally friendly for our town, the national park and all our visitors,” said Jeremy Powell, of Banff Transportation Group.
“We are ready to comply with the Banff Community Plan by greening the taxi fleet.”
On Monday (Oct. 22), council unanimously asked administration to come back with a taxi bylaw amendment to mandate conversion of taxi licences to the most efficient vehicles as defined by Transport Canada’s fuel consumption guide.
Council was okay with the Banff Transportation Group coming up with the schedule in which to make those conversions after the group asked council to be patient as they moved through this process.
Powell said Banff Transportation Company plans to convert five taxi licences in 2013, then convert three licences per year for the next seven years until they reach 80 per cent conversion.
“We would like to leave room to keep certain types of vehicles, such as mini vans to accommodate larger groups of passengers,” he said.
“At this point, BTG is looking to make a major impact with our sedans, which account for about 80 per cent of the fleet.”
Currently, all 35 legally available taxi licences are owned and held by Banff Transportation Group. The current fleet consists of 28 Ford Crown Victoria sedans and seven Dodge Caravan minivans. The year models range from 1999 to 2006 for an average vehicle age of eight years.
Banff’s current taxi bylaw does not impose any restrictions relating to what the maximum age or minimum fuel efficiency of a taxi should be, but each year, the fleet must have one complete mechanical inspection.
In 2011, council indicated a willingness to see guidelines set and maintained at a standard that reflected Banff’s profile as a premiere tourist destination inside the boundaries of a national park.
“I appreciate your response to this,” said Mayor Karen Sorensen to the Banff Transportation Group on hearing they are keen to make the conversion to more eco-friendly vehicles.
Chad Townsend, the Town of Banff’s environmental co-ordinator, said like transit and rental bikes, taxi fleets are a key part of the municipal transportation system.
“They are a very visible opportunity to demonstrate environmental commitments to visitors,” he said in a report to council.
Many North American jurisdictions have addressed the issue of fuel efficiency in taxis, including British Columbia, where all applications for new and additional taxis operating in the Lower Mainland and in the capital regional district would only be approved if the vehicles are eco-friendly.
The B.C. government also offers PST sales rebates in a bid to provide an incentive for all taxi operators in the province to use hybrid and eco-friendly vehicles.
Also in Canada, the province of Quebec has earmarked funding for rebates of up to $2,000 for taxi operators who purchase and use hybrid vehicles.
San Francisco, New York City and Boston all have programs in place, too.
Banff Transportation Group is not requesting any specific funding for its fleet conversion to a more fuel-efficient vehicles, but council does have the power to waive annual inspection fees for taxis that are considered green.
If inspection fees were waived on five taxis, for example, the Town of Banff would get $620 less in revenue. Banff Transportation Group currently pays the Town $4,340 per year in inspection fees.
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