Driving 'Green' for Tel Aviv

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CBNNews.com - TEL AVIV, Israel - The Tel Aviv Municipality and the Israel Taxi Drivers Association are approving plans that will make taxi driving more environmentally friendly, which they claim will benefit both taxi drivers and Tel Aviv residents. The plan involves converting 5,000 taxis in the Tel Aviv Municipality to hybrid vehicles within the next few years.

Hybrid vehicles emit fewer pollutants because of a combination gasoline-electric motor. Of the two hybrid models available in Israel, the Honda Civic and the Toyota Prius, the Prius is the only one currently used by taxi drivers.

The plans stem from recent government legislation on transportation that allows local leaders to create and implement pollution-reduction strategies for transportation. The current plan will allow for perks, including lower toll rates and new parking spaces for drivers who opt for hybrids.

Moshe Belsenheim, Tel Aviv Municipality's environmental authority, recently said that the drivers will need no persuasion to switch.

"They had already checked and come to the conclusion that the switch to hybrids is in their own best interests, both economically and environmentally," Belsenheim said.

The only ones not mentioned are the customers, who may be paying for these upgrades. The switch will be relatively easy and inexpensive for taxi drivers because they don't pay sales tax on vehicles, allowing them significant discounts.

The only foreseeable problem with the plan is the current low sales tax on hybrids. If all drivers switched to hybrid models at once, the hybrid market could crash. The proposed solution is for the government to create 'green taxes' that will also charge according to a vehicle's estimated pollutants.

Source: YNet News

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