If you call a cab in Johnson County, you might get one that runs on natural gas rather than gasoline.
Checker Transportation Group, which operates Checker Cab and City Cab, is adding two cabs powered by compressed natural gas to its Johnson County fleet and will have five within a year, Craig Bates announced Thursday at Olathe Ford Lincoln.
Bates, who has been in the cab business 33 years, said his transportation group “wanted to raise awareness of governments and public officials, even drivers,” that compressed natural gas vehicles are cheap to operate, pollute less than gasoline-burning models and could help reduce dependence on foreign oil.
Bates, whose cabs are refitted Ford Crown Victorias, said it could cost from $7,000 to $12,000 to convert a vehicle to use compressed natural gas. But the fuel costs less than half what regular gasoline costs right now, which can boost a cabdriver’s income. And when more of the vehicles are built or refitted, Bates said, economies of scale could bring down their added upfront costs.