Sep 082011

Natural gas-powered Ford taxis start rolling in Orange County

An Orange County taxi company became the first cab business in California to put new compressed natural gas-powered Ford Transit Connect Taxis into service.

California Yellow Cab of Orange County started using the first 10 of 50 Transit Connect Taxis it plans to put into service by 2012.

Yellow Cab of Anaheim also has ordered 69 of the vehicles. That means that soon more than 100 of the distinct, boxy Transit Connects will be plying Orange County streets. The CNG-powered Ford-built taxis are already in use in Chicago, Las Vegas, New York and St. Louis. They cost about $35,000.

The taxis are based on the gasoline-powered version of the Transit Connect, a small van popular as a delivery or commercial vehicle. Dallas-based BAF Technologies is retrofitting the taxis as natural gas vehicles certified by the California Air Resources Board.

The Air Resources Board encourages the use of natural gas-powered vehicles because they are less polluting than autos with standard gasoline engines.

Taxi companies and other businesses like them because natural gas costs less than gasoline.

“We have a situation here in Orange County where the per gallon equivalent of CNG is almost $2 less than the price of a gallon of traditional fuel. Given that, along with the increased infrastructure support, it’s not hard to see why it makes sense for us to go with the CNG-powered Transit Connect Taxi,” said Tim Conlon, president and general manager of California Yellow Cab.

Orange County has 30 compressed natural gas filling stations.

“Our goal is to convert our entire fleet to alternative fuels,” Conlon said.

Read the full Story At Los Angeles Times