Cabbies ask city to hold off on hybrids

BROOKLYN - Brooklyn taxi drivers are expressing concern that smaller, eco-friendly hybrid cars being added to their fleets are putting their lives at risk.

Maurice Millien, who has been driving a cab for the past 23 years, says if he were driving a smaller hybrid cab, he would not have walked away from a crash he was recently involved in.

?I?d be dead, no doubt about it,? Millien says.? It would [have been] be a lot different.?

The city is pushing cab companies to add more energy-efficient hybrid vehicles, which are often smaller. But drivers say the hybrids cannot endure a taxi?s rigorous driving or accommodate partitions between the back seat and the driver?s seat, making cabbies vulnerable to attacks.

?We?re asking City Hall to please hold off the smaller vehicles and wait until the larger vehicles are available,? says Fernando Mateo, president of the New York State Taxi Federation.

Taxi drivers emphasize they are not against environmentally friendly vehicles, but say safety comes first. They urge the makers of their Crown Victoria cabs to manufacture larger hybrid taxis as soon as possible.

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