Vegas: glittering lights, buffets for miles, lavish shows, mountains of cash raining down on dancing beauties in scandalously skimpy outfits while slot machines and Liza Minelli caress your eardrums. You thought it couldn’t get any better, but oh yes, it totally did. Sin City is now the land of propane-powered taxis!
Las Vegasites (or Vegasans, if you prefer) are catching more eco-friendly rides than cab riders in other large cities, as nearly a third of the city’s taxicabs now run on propane, the Las Vegas Business Press reported earlier this week.
The rise of propane taxis is largely due to Yellow-Checker-Star Transportation, a taxicab company that maintains a staff of over 45 people working to convert and maintain the engines in their fleet of Ford Crown Victorias. It costs about $5,000 to convert each vehicle, which involves replacing gasoline tanks with 40-gallon propane tanks stored in the trunk. The upfront conversion cost eventually pays for itself since propane is cheaper than gasoline.
Nevada Yellow-Checker-Star’s fleet comprises almost a third of Clark County’s taxicab population. They’ve been utilizing propane’s financial and environmental benefits since 1985 when they converted their first cabs. CEO Gene Auffert estimated his company’s cabs traveled a collective 42 million miles last year and reduced its carbon emissions by 1,000 tons by using propane instead of gasoline. He also said the company is testing Ford’s new Transit Connects, which use compressed natural gas, as they continue to add propane-fueled vehicles to the fleet.
Other Nevada taxicab companies seem to be taking note, as Lucky Cab Co. made the switch to hybrid taxis a few years ago and Whittlesea-Bell recently bought 10 Transit Connects to supplement its fleet. In fact, taxicab companies and commercial driving fleets all over the country are starting to invest in alternative fuels like propane. Industry experts expect that sometime relatively soon, conversion technology won’t be necessary and vehicles that accept propane fuel will be available for sale in the United States.