Jan 032012

Most taxi’s have one passenger

It certainly makes a lot of sense. The vast majority of taxis usually only take one passenger at any one time and so why ferry one person around in a car that uses to much fuel? That’s exactly what the city of Edinburgh noticed and so it decided to take action. It will now use Smart vehicles, the offshoot of Daimler, as taxis to and from the city airport.

Over half of airport transfers had only one passenger

The move, which was accepted by Edinburgh officials, was proposed by Edinburgh City Private Hire after it found that some 55 per cent of journeys to and from the airport included just one passenger. Smart vehicles are highly fuel efficient because they only have one row of seats and are considerably smaller than the average car, particularly when it comes to length.

Smart Car - For Two

Smart Car - For Two

Fairs to stabilise

As a result, Edinburgh hopes to reduce the impact its taxis have on the environment, improve fuel efficiency and also reduce the level of congestion in and around the city centre as part of this pilot project. This comes after the city council recently backed a hike in fares on the airport route. It is now hoped that the decision to use Smart cars can at least stabilise fares and possibly bring them down.

High MPG

Although Smart cars are not as fuel efficient as the most advanced hybrids, namely the Honda Insight and Citroen C1 to name those with the best fuel economy standards, they do compete extremely well when compared to other petrol engine vehicles. The Smart Roadster can do more than 55 miles per gallon, while the popular Fortwo achieves more than 47 mpg. In the petrol category, only the likes of the Toyota Aygo and Peugeot 107 compete.

Lower fares provide better competition

This is therefore a very smart decision by Edinburgh and points yet again to a slow migration towards common sense when it comes to making and using vehicles. The only surprise is that it took so long. That’s not necessarily because of the environmental aspect but because this is clearly an initiative that can save the private sector money. By investing in Smart vehicles instead of those which have a far lower level of fuel efficiency taxi companies can do one of two things. Either they can keep fares the same and achieve greater profit margins through savings on fuel costs and road tax: of course, Smart vehicles are in a fuel efficient band. Or these companies can use this cost advantage to lower their fares and therefore compete favourably with other companies.

SmartForTwo - Electric Car (Possibly for future use in Edinburgh)

SmartForTwo - Electric Car (Possibly for future use in Edinburgh)

But what about the luggage?

The only negative for a company that chooses to employ Smart vehicles, one which is especially pronounced at a transport hub, is that luggage space is more limited alongside the ability to carry extra passengers. This is only a minor negative, however, particularly in an age when travellers would be keen to save as much money as possible. Most single travelers are business people with limited luggage usually small enough to negate any problem.

Will London follow?

London, of course, continues to use black cabs and larger vehicles at its airports and therefore the prospects for eco cars with lower emissions and fares remains dim. It’s time other cities in the UK followed Edinburgh’s lead and got Smart.

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