Two Connecticut taxi operators are adding alternative fuel vehicles to their taxi fleets beginning with Ford Transit Connect Taxi CNG units.

Metro Taxi of West Haven, Conn., and The Yellow Cab Company of Bloomfield, Conn., each ordered 20 Transit Connect Taxis with CNG preparation engine packages - for a total of 40. Inter-State Ford in Hartford, Conn., is the delivering dealer for both operators. Ford announced the orders Wednesday at the New England International Auto Show.

"We're migrating our fleets to alternative fuel vehicles, and Transit Connect Taxi with CNG is the perfect vehicle to start with," said Bill Scalzi, president of Metro Taxi. "CNG is the cleanest alternative fuel available, and the vehicle has great features for passenger comfort."

Marco Henry, president of The Yellow Cab Company, said the new Transit Connect Taxis with CNG will be added to his fleet of more than 100 taxi cabs.

The Connecticut operators are among several New England taxi operators who have recently ordered Transit Connects for their fleets.

Both are active in their communities in environmental preservation and safe driving. Committing to operating CNG-powered taxi fleets is a major part of that effort.

In its customer research, Ford found that taxi operators such as Scalzi and Henry are not unique. Taxi operators around the country are asking for vehicles that run on alternative fuels. Therefore, Ford developed the Transit Connect Taxi with an engine prep package that allows conversion to both compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied propane gas (LPG).

The vehicle's cargo area easily accommodates CNG tanks directly behind the second-row seat, still allowing ample luggage storage.

Both CNG and LPG lower taxi fleet operating costs and are better for the environment. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, CNG is less expensive and burns cleaner than gasoline, resulting in 30 to 40 percent less greenhouse gas emissions. Propane also burns cleaner than gasoline.

Built on a dedicated commercial vehicle platform tested to meet Ford's light commercial vehicle durability standards, Ford's new Transit Connect Taxi also features a wiring upfit package, vinyl flooring and standard third-row windows - all of which are factory-installed. 

With its standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder gas engine and automatic transmission, the conventionally powered Transit Connect is expected to deliver an estimated 30 percent improvement in fuel economy versus many of today's traditional taxis.