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City to pay cab companies to go green

Chicago is hoping to make its taxi fleet a bit more green, so on Earth Day, it launched a new program to help the industry buy cost-effective hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles.

The city of Chicago Dept. of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection on Friday announced the Green Taxi Program to help cab companies buy the greener vehicles and help the city move closer to reaching carbon emission goals set out in the Chicago Climate Action Plan.

The plan is also designed to provide passengers with trips in “modern and environmentally sustainable vehicles,” a release from the department said.

The new program “provides an incentive to the taxi industry to reduce carbon emissions,” Norma Reyes, department commissioner, said in the release. “Alternative fuel and hybrid taxis provide numerous benefits including lower fuel costs for drivers and improved air quality.”

The program will use $1 million in funding from a Clean Cities grant through the federal stimulus program to reimburse up to a set amount the cost of certain hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles, the release said.

Hybrids can be reimbursed for $2,000, the maximum allowed by the federal government under the program. CNG or propane-powered vehicles can be reimbursed for up to 100 percent of the implemented cost, up to $14,000. Electric vehicles are not qualified, the release said.

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