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A long odyssey seeking safety for his family led him to Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Italy, and eventually to Portland, Oregon.

Not caring for Portland’s cold, wet climate, Alex first moved to Bakersfield where he spent 12 years as an oil field driver.

Dale says now that he’s gotten all the cabs at the airport he wants to turn his attention to the 1,200 city cabs in San Diego.

Mossy offered the drivers zero down and low or no interest financing, driver discounts, free carwashes and preferred service.

Mossy employs about 150 people here and the taxi conversion enabled him to hire additional staff, Dale says.

San Diego’s Friendly Cab is operated by a man with soft eyes and a slight smile perpetually sneaking up under his barely gray mustache, 70-year-old Mesghina Ghebrehiwat.

His business card, which doubles as a receipt, shows a pastel photo of the palm tree-lined streets of Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, the northeast African country where he was born, and an Eritrean flag in the shape of a heart. It’s quiet, of course, and unlike some cab drivers who like to gun it and then hit the brakes over and over until you arrive at your destination, Alex says he takes special care to drive smoothly.

Then, when one of his kids got a scholarship to San Diego State University, he moved his family to San Diego.

After a few years driving for Yellow Cab in San Diego, he started Friendly Cab.“I’ve done hundreds of thousands of dollars of service on the hybrids—oil changes, rotating tires, regular maintenance.” Mechanics trained in hybrid maintenance must go through additional training, but also make more money than conventional car mechanics.Mossy runs an internship program with a local high school where kids interested in an automotive career can come train to work on the hybrids.Asmara’s climate is very close to San Diego’s, where Mesghina has been driving a taxi for 14 years and where he goes by the name “Alex” – which is easier for his customers to pronounce and remember. You feel like you are getting something a little bit extra when Alex picks you up at San Diego International Airport. “It makes my customers happy,” he says, both of his driving technique and his Prius.When San Diego’s airport expansion occurred on the heels of the passage of California’s bedrock climate and clean energy law, AB 32, the airport agreed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions as it expanded.The expansion would add traffic, so, among other measures, the airport offered lower fees to airport taxis to convert to hybrids.

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