In August 2011, the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) launched a Green Taxi Pilot Program that provides compressed natural gas (CNG) taxi cabs with preferential access to terminals at O'Hare and Midway International Airports, encouraging the use of CNG taxi cabs instead of traditionally-fueled vehicles.
The CDA's program allows CNG taxis to use the "short trip" lanes that are typically used for wheelchair-accessible vehicles, reducing wait times for CNG taxis to pick up fares. The CDA's program complements the City of Chicago's Green Taxi Incremental Cost Allowance Program ("Green Taxi Program") launched in April 2011 by the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP).
Thanks to the BACP's leadership and guidance, the CDA's pilot program has been a tremendous success. Each month, the number of trips in CNG cabs has increased. Approximately 30 CNG cabs are used on a daily basis at O'Hare, making more than 2,500 trips per month. The CNG taxis have traditional car engines that have been converted to run 100 percent on CNG, which is a cleaner fuel than traditional gasoline.
The CDA's program supports the City's goal to achieve the greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals outlined in the Chicago Climate Action Plan. Purchasing CNG instead of gasoline or diesel fuel also reduces dependence on foreign oil, generally costs around 15 percent less, has a more stable price, requires fewer oil changes, and is less toxic.
The CDA is also planning to operate a fueling station that will supply multiple alternative fuels to commercial and private vehicles at and around O'Hare. The alternative fueling station will be located near the intersection of Mannheim and Higgins Rd. and will aid in fueling the increasing fleet of CNG taxi cabs serving O'Hare.
The CDA has also followed the BACP's initiative to educate taxi drivers about "EcoDriving" practices to reduce emissions and save drivers up to $2,200 per year in fuel costs. EcoDriving signs and brochures are posted around the airport to provide insight on idling, weight, air conditioning use, cruise control, proper tire inflation, and other topics.
To be eligible for short trip lane access, CNG cabs need to display
the official City of Chicago "Green Taxi Chicago Compressed Natural Gas
Vehicle" sticker, which can be obtained at the Public Vehicle Inspection
Facility at 2420 West Pershing Road.
Questions about the program can be sent to BACPPV@cityofchicago.org or by calling the Public Vehicle Operations Division at (312) 746-4300.