Ford natural gas taxis to hit Chicago streets this March

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A 2011 Ford Transit Connect compressed natural gas taxi parked outside a hotel.

The 2011 Ford Transit Connect taxi will do its share to reduce Chicago's carbon footprint. (Photo Credit: CC BY-ND/Unnen)

Alternative fuel cars are the future of the automotive industry, and electronic vehicles currently lead the pack. But there are other clean sources of alternative fuel out there, and the 2011 Ford Transit Connect van will feature one of them. According to Automotive news, Transit Connects that run on compressed natural gas will be put into service as Chicago taxis by March.

The 2011 Transit Connect as Yellow Cab taxi

Twelve 2011 Ford Transit Connect natural gas-powered vans have been purchased by Taxi Medallion Management, the company that operates Yellow Cab, Checker and Blue Diamond taxis throughout Chicago. The Transit Connects will drive under the Yellow Cab banner. Yellow Cab also operates a small fleet of Toyota Scion xBs, a roomy, box-shaped 5-door hatchback.

Michael Levin, CEO of Taxi Medallion Management, told Automotive News that the company plans to reduce emissions by 25 percent or more via the purchase of the Transit Connect fleet.

“We are adding vehicles with more fuel-efficient gasoline engines, as well as vehicles with alternative-fuel sources to find a vehicle mix that best suits our customers, our drivers, the city at large and the environment,” Levine said.

Transit to connect you to your destination

Currently, Ford and its dealers do not provide that run on natural gas vehicles straight from the lot. Ford makes the power train, but Taxi Medallion Management will be responsible for taking each Transit Connect to an outfitter that will supply cylindrical natural gas fuel tanks and other necessary parts. A liquefied propane gas fuel is also available.

What the 2011 Ford Transit Connect taxi will provide transit customers is a repositioned second seating row that affords more legroom for added comfort, additional handles for safer vehicle exit and entry and a rear ventilation mechanism that can be configured as the passenger desires. A rear-view camera, backup sensor, heavy-duty battery and expanded wiring options will give Transit Connect taxi drivers all of the tools necessary to work the mean streets.

Transit Connect specs

Improving greatly upon the Crown Victoria frame taxis to which Taxi Medallion Management is accustomed, the Transit Connect boasts a 2.0-liter engine rated at 21 mpg city and 26 on the highway. While natural gas refueling options are less plentiful than standard gasoline, it is interesting to note that compressed natural gas as used by the Transit Connect can be combined with biogas from landfills or waste water without expanding the carbon footprint.


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