Efforts to reduce emissions are always part of the public policy agenda in a city that’s known for tangled traffic and a persistent pollution problem.
Interventions have been numerous in Mexico City, ranging from the introduction of the ECOBICI bike share program and the expansion of the capital’s extensive public transportation system, to strict “Hoy no circula” policies that determine which days drivers are allowed to come into the city and which days they must find an alternative for making their commute.
For a long time, however, taxis were largely left out of the pollution-reduction equation. The oversight was significant: with more than 103,300 taxis zooming along the streets of the city, any measures that might reduce taxi emissions could represent important environmental gains.
For that reason, former mayor Marcelo Ebrard, known for his prioritization of environmentally-friendly policies, introduced a pilot program for zero emission taxis in 2012.
During that phase, electric taxis were slated to operate almost exclusively in the capital’s Centro Histórico.
For various reasons, the program has taken three years to really get rolling. Last month, the city’s secretary of transportation finally gave the green light for the electric taxis to take to the streets.
But users won’t be able to flag them down. The electric taxis don’t operate under all of the same conditions as standard taxis. They must be requested by phone dispatch and they run only from 5:30 AM until 11:30 PM.
With a fleet of just 20 Nissan Leafs, the environmental impact will be small, but if demand for the electric taxis is substantiated, city officials might expand the program. The government is attempting to entice riders to try electric taxis as an alternative to standard cabs by providing receipts that can be used for tax deductions.