The next time you hail a cab in Boston, it might just be a Ford Transit Connect. The first of this new Ford taxi model in the U.S. was delivered to Boston Cab Dispatch at the 2010 New England International Auto Show.
Brett Barenholtz, CEO of Boston Cab Dispatch, received the keys to the Transit Connect Taxi and said he is eager to put it into service.
“Transit Connect Taxi offers important features for our passengers and our drivers,” said Barenholtz at the auto show. “It has more legroom and cargo space, better fuel efficiency, and makes the entire operation more economical.”
Sentry Ford in Medford, Mass., is the delivering dealer, working with Boston Cab Dispatch to integrate Transit Connect into the cab company’s fleet.
The taxi was outfitted by Creative Mobile Technologies of Long Island City, N.Y., which provides equipment such as payment processing and passenger information systems in the taxi, including an 8.4-inch electronic infotainment and navigation screen that shows cab fares, news, weather, sports scores and stock ticker.
“CMT is thrilled to combine state-of-the-art technology with a next-generation taxi platform like Transit Connect,” said Jesse Davis, president of CMT.
Transit Connect Taxis also are on their way to other New England taxi companies. George Summers, president of USA Taxi, has added a Transit Connect to his Boston fleet. And two Connecticut operators, Bill Scalzi, president of Metro Taxi in West Haven, Conn., and Marco Henry, president of The Yellow Cab Company in Bloomfield, Conn., have ordered compressed natural gas (CNG) versions of the Transit Connect Taxi for their fleets.
“We’ve always driven Ford vehicles, Crown Vics and Escape Hybrids” said Summers. “Now, we’re adding the Transit Connect Taxi. It has great dimensions and fuel efficiency that will work well on the road.” Stoneham Ford in Stoneham, Mass., is the delivering dealer for USA Taxi.
In April, the Licensing Division of the Boston Police Department approved Transit Connect for taxi use, making Boston the first city in the country to do so. To be approved, the vehicle had to meet basic size requirements for passenger headroom, legroom and cargo space.
“Transit Connect fits the bill,” said Mark Cohen, Licensing Division director. “The size, shape and configuration of this unique vehicle make it comfortable for both driver and passengers.”
While the small perimeter dimensions and tall shape of Transit Connect make it easy for drivers to maneuver and park, the standard 2.0-liter I-4 engine gets 21 mpg city and 26 mpg highway mpg, an estimated 30 percent improvement in fuel economy versus traditional V8-powered sedan-based taxis.
Furthermore, Transit Connect Taxi is available with an engine preparation package for conversion to compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied propane gas (LPG).
The Transit Connect Taxi package adds comfort for the passenger with a repositioned second-row seat for more legroom, grab handles and rear air conditioning/heat vent with passenger controls. For the taxi driver, new features include rear view camera and back-up sensor, heavy-duty battery and a wiring block connector to power upfitted accessories.
“We’re excited to see Transit Connect Taxi in service in Boston,” said Kevin Koswick, director of Ford North American Fleet Operations. “Ford is committed to offering new solutions and maintaining our leadership as America’s No. 1 taxi provider.”