Volume 93, Issue 91

Wednesday, March 22, 2000


NEWS

U of T students sit for sweatshops

Cultural Caravan stops in atrium

Kissel in race for CASA director

Parents oppose Harris' new code of conduct

Jane Jacobs talks city business

New study to explain rising gas prices

Cab company makes switch to natural gas

Briefs

Bass Ackwards

Caught on campus

Cab company makes switch to natural gas



By Heather Buchan
Gazette Staff

Natural gas taxis are making the air a little fresher for everyone in Toronto.

Forty new natural gas powered Ford Crown Victorias, purchased by Co-Op Cabs, were put into operation for the first time last week in the mega-city, said Peter Zahakos, operations manager for the cab company.

Zahakos said the number of taxis fuelled by natural gas was expected to increase in the next few years, as taxi companies disposed of older vehicles which failed to meet safety standards.

"This is our bit to clean up the environment and we hope that other cab companies will follow suit," Zahakos said, adding the company has committed $500,000 to create a natural gas fuelling station in downtown Toronto for private car owners.

According to Zahakos, his company converted older cars to natural gas last year, but lost trunk space, as a result of having to store the bottles containing the gas in the trunk. In the new vehicles, the natural gas is stored where the gas tank is. He added it was 40 per cent cheaper to use natural gas than regular gas. "Diesel fuel costs $32 per shift while natural gas costs $17 per shift," he said.

The City of Toronto's Atmospheric Fund donated $5,000 to Co-Op Cabs and $1,000 each to several other cab companies who were purchasing natural gas taxis, Zahakos said.

Zahakos expressed optimism about the effects of natural gas-powered vehicles on the environment, adding he wanted to breathe cleaner air, especially since the dreaded smog-filled summer days were approaching.

Michael Powell, associate professor of earth sciences at Western agreed fuelling cars with natural gas was a solution to the world's future environmental problems.

"The use of natural gas will [have a] tremendous boom in the environment. The burning of light carbons relative to standard diesel or petroleum definitely has positive results," he added.

The benefits of natural gas were confirmed by Jerry Lacina, channel manager at Union Gas Limited, who said natural gas simply burns better. "When it burns, it's like a high efficiency furnace burning," he said.

"Natural gas for vehicles is not a new thing," Lacina said, adding there were 30 public stations in Windsor, Chatham, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton, Sarnia and London which served natural gas, as well as 30 in the Greater Toronto Area.

London taxi companies use propane to fuel their fleet, which was also environmentally friendly, said Mike MacLachlan, manager of passenger services at Aboutown. MacLachlan added the possibility of implementing natural gas in London taxis was not impossible, but added there were not any plans to do so.


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