BY: ELIJAH BASSETT
In China’s capital city, Beijing, tens of thousands of taxi drivers spend countless hours on the road every day, while the city – and country – faces a pollution crisis that has been seriously harmful to both the country and its reputation. But a new decision by the city should help to reduce the deadly levels of pollution that currently plague it.
China is painfully aware of the environmental damage taking place within its borders – as well as the human suffering it causes. According to Mashable, a 2015 study found that air pollution kills about 4,000 people a day in China. This decision follows several other moves to clean up the country and its air. This choice in particular should be significant because taxis spend so much more time on the road than the average driver, and therefore produce much more pollution when driving gas-powered cars.
The shift will be gradual since only new taxis or replacements will have to be electric, but the higher cost of electric vehicles will still be a burden to taxi companies, who hope that some of these costs will be subsidized. If they aren’t, it is estimated that the replacements for Beijing’s 67,000 gas-powered taxis will cost the companies about 9 billion yuan ($1.3 billion US) in total. Not only that, but the city’s infrastructure will also have to improve in order for the plan to work.
Currently, Beijing simply doesn’t have enough car charging stations to accommodate the amount of electric taxis in the city, let alone the amount they will eventually have due to this change. But the good news is that as they (hopefully) build more charging stations to keep up with the increasing number of electric taxis, they should also be able to prepare the city for more widespread electric car usage.
It’s hard to know how long it will take for all of the current taxis to be replaced, or exactly how big the impact will be, but Beijing has certainly set an example that more cities would do well to follow. If they’re more polluted than Beijing then they certainly need it; and if they aren’t, then modernizing taxi services (as some Canadian taxi companies have) could help them stay that way.