KEY WEST, Florida Keys -- Key West's hot-pink taxis have gone "green."
Five Sixes Taxi recently debuted 10 environmentally friendly hybrid vehicles as the first step in converting its entire fleet.
According to officials at the Taxi, Limousine and Paratransit Association, Five Sixes is the first taxi company in Florida to roll out hybrids.
The cab company's officials project that the new fuel-efficient vehicles will get about 38 miles per gallon in the city, compared to their previous vehicles' 12 to 13 miles per gallon.
"Going hybrid will reduce our emissions factor by 80 percent," said Five Sixes' president Jan Doelman.
Though Doelman said he spent more than $300,000 to purchase and outfit the first 10 hybrids -- including painting them the company's trademark hot pink -- he expects benefits in reduced fuel costs and passenger enthusiasm.
"It's nice to know that Key West is very progressive on environmental issues, and you can ride in a taxi cab without really having to worry about the environment," said Don Menard of The Villages, Fla., who was one of the hybrid fleet's first passengers.
The company plans to replace its other 13 sedans with hybrids by March 2009, and replace its 23 seven-passenger Maxi Taxis when a suitable hybrid van becomes available.
For more information about Five Sixes Taxi, visit keywesttaxi.com or call (305) 296-1800.
A new Five Sixes Taxi hybrid vehicle rolls past the Southernmost Point marker Wednesda in Key West, Fla. (Photos by Rob O'Neal/Florida Keys News Bureau)
Glenn Stevenson of Five Sixes Taxi (right) shows Florida Keys commissioner Dixie Spehar the inner workings of the hybrid cab.