Judge rules Boston can't force cabbies to buy hybrids they can crash while talking on their cell phones

A federal judge has overruled Boston - and his ten-year-old grandson - and said federal law prohibits the city from forcing cab owners to buy hybrid vehicles.

Meanwhile, the Herald reports cabbies are largely ignoring a city ordinance that bans them from using cell phones while driving.

US District Court Judge William Young began his ruling on hybrid cabs with a note to his grandson:

My ten year old grandson came to watch the motion session where this matter was argued. When it was over, he said, "Why can't Boston do what it wants with its taxis? It's for the environment."

Why indeed?

The answer, Cam, is that the Congress of the United States, pursuing national goals it considers important, has forbidden Boston from taking this initiative on behalf of its citizens.

Specifically, he wrote, the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, passed in 1973, reserves all regulation of fuel economy to the federal government.

Read Young's complete decision.

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      That Said

      I think it's within the right of the City of Boston to be able to provide incentives, especially financial ones, to encourage hybrids vehicles. And since the City does own the taxi stands (but not the taxi's), they can make certain ones hybrid-only stands or certain parts at least to provide that incentive.

      I personally think taxi's are great for Boston and that we need more of them and more stands (especially in Brighton and Allston). But we should encourage clean running and safe taxi's in our communities. Much like we should be encouraging clean running and safe public transit.

      I agree 100% on needing more

      I agree 100% on needing more stands.

      Want to lower pollution....and traffic? have a place where cabs can stop and park their car while waiting for a fare, instead of driving around. Also, that way people dont have to stand on a corner and hope a cab goes by, but can walk to a specific place and know a cab will be there.

      idling cabs

      More stands might be a good thing, but only if the anti-idling regulations are enforced. Cabs are some of the worst offenders of idling for long periods of time, and since many are driving the very efficient crown vics, they cause disproportionately more pollution. What I have never understood: for people whose margins are apparently so thin, why the hell do they just idle away?

      Does this mean the cabbies

      Does this mean the cabbies are going to revert back to the old price, since they got the increase they wanted in exchange for, among other things, switching to hybrids. And the other things, like stopping using cell phones (they haven't, as the Herald reports), having credit card option (which the Globe recently reported they refuse too), and the high cost of gas (it was over 4.00, now less than 3.

      So the countries most expensive cabs reneged on their part of the bargain, the city should reneg on ours and go back to the old fares.

      Regarding cell phone usage

      when visiting town last week, of 5 cabs I took, 2 were reading emails on the dash-mounted flat screen. This is okay, but cell phones are not? I assume it was messages from dispatch, but not convinced this is a safer option.

      One of the cabs I took told me I had to have cash as his credit card "machine" was broken (the same flat screen mentioned above). Couldn't take credit cards, but he had no problem receiving and reading emails on it. I probably should have reported him as his front passenger seat belt didn't work either, and I'm suspicious he long-hauled me to the airport.

      what? I was on the phone...

      Cabbie use of cell phones is totally off the charts (particularly after they discovered bluetooth). It is one of the reasons (albeit not the primary one) why I have taken only a handful of cab rides in the last 3 years.

      While it concerns me, it probably wouldn't bother me that much, but for the fact that it gets in the way of me telling the cabbie where to go. This and the mechanical condition of the cabs are the biggest reason I don't bother anymore. I just got tired of being asked "what?" after each direction I gave, because the driver was listening to his friend and not to me.

      I am trying hard to not go off on how unbelievable I find it that so many cabbies cannot find their way around outside the downtown area. I mean, asking me how to get back to some place in Boston from a place in Brookline that is less than a 1000 yards from the border? Really?! For the love of God, Man, the place is surrounded on three sides by Boston!

      Downtown also

      Boston is well known to have the worst, and least knowledgeable, cabbies. Their lack of knowledge is not reserved for the areas surrounding boston, as I live downtown and still have to tell them turn by turn how to get to my apt each time.