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Baltimore Gets First Fleet Of Propane Taxis

Veolia Transportation launched the first taxi fleet in Baltimore powered by propane gas last Friday. Baltimore is the second city in the national transportation company’s roll-out of propane-powered taxis, with Denver first and Pittsburgh to follow.
Veolia is starting with 25 taxis in Baltimore but expects to add another 25 taxis in the next month, for a total of 50, as parts arrive. Dwight Kines, regional vice president for Veolia, says the propane tanks can be installed in any full-size automobile. In Baltimore, they are being installed in the Ford Crown Victorias that the fleet uses.
Veolia is Baltimore City’s largest operator of taxicab services. Operating under the names Yellow, Checker, and Sun Cabs in Baltimore City, and Jimmy’s Cab in Baltimore County, the company has a fleet of nearly 700 vehicles.
Kines says that of its 580 taxicabs in Baltimore City, 430 are privately-owned and 150 are company-owned. “Eventually we will convert all of our cabs to propane and will offer [conversion] to the private owners,” Kines says.
So far, private owners have been reluctant to convert to propane but Kines expects that to change as gas prices rise. The company installed a fueling station for propane, a form of natural gas, which currently sells for $2.45 per gallon. With gas, a Ford Crown Victoria gets 12 miles per gallon; with propane, 23 to 25 miles per gallon.
“We get fuel economy and a cheaper cost per gallon,” Kines says, adding that because propane is a “cleaner” fuel” than gas, there is less air pollution and also less wear on the vehicle’s engine.
The company looked at other clean energy options like electric vehicles, but decided on propane. Veolia received a grant from Virginia Clean Cities for the propane conversion. The Southeast Propane Autogas Development Program, a public-private partnership, provided the grant money to Virginia Clean Cities.
Veolia operates in about a dozen cities. Kines says that after Pittsburgh, the company is considering Kansas City, Mo., and Jacksonville, Fl., for further roll-outs. Eventually, plans call for a total of 300 of its cabs nationwide to be converted to propane.
“We are setting an example,” he says of the Baltimore roll-out.  “We hope other fleets in the city follow our lead.”
Source: Dwight Kines, Veolia Transportation
Writer: Barbara Pash; [email protected]

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