Six local cab drivers will get $2,500 grants to switch over to green vehicles as part of a government pilot project.

The province is also giving nine other cabbies $1,200 to act as a test sample. At least three of those grants will go to drivers who have not switched to fuel-efficient vehicles.

The province will spend a year tracking the difference in fuel use, maintenance and repair costs between the new and old cabs.

While the changeover will only affect six HRM cabs out of more than 1,000 total, MLA Bill Estabrooks said he wanted to get the program started now and hopefully expand it in the future.

“In this situation, considering the dollars that were available, six is a good start,” he said.

Cab driver Ravi Ubhi was on site for the program’s unveiling yesterday at Grand Parade. He switched to a 2010 Ford Fusion hybrid car last August and has loved it ever since. He said he saves about $400 to $500 per month in gas over his old Honda Accord.

He said passengers also notice the lack of noise emitting from the hybrid engine.

“They often ask me, ‘How come it’s so quiet?’” he said. “Personally I love the technology.”

Applications are available through the Halifax-Dartmouth Automobile Dealer’s Association and will be accepted until May 14. Grants will be awarded on a merit-based system, according to government staff. Last November, Halifax regional council made changes to its taxi bylaw to allow a slew of new hybrid and fuel-efficient cars that were previously not allowed to serve because of their size.