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EcoCab's fleet will consist of all-electric vehicles. Meanwhile, app-based services captured about 43 percent of for-hire rides in the city during May.
A company providing taxi services with electric vehicles, including Tesla Model S sedans, was set to begin taking fares in Portland, Oregon on Wednesday.
Portland’s City Council voted 5-0 on March 18 to approve 51 taxi licenses for EcoCab Portland, LLC. The company’s general manager there told The Oregonian on Wednesday that, starting out, its fleet would consist of 15 vehicles, including vans to accommodate disabled passengers.
“I think EcoCab will really appeal to the progressive, eco-friendly consumer in Portland,” Leah Jones, the general manager, also said.
EcoCab’s vehicles will come online as Portland continues to conduct a pilot program that has allowed mobile-application-based ride-hailing companies, Lyft and Uber, to operate in the city.
The pilot began in April and will run through August. Last Wednesday, the Portland Bureau of Transportation presented the City Council with a status report on the program. During the month of May, Uber and Lyft provided 43 percent, or about 100,000, of the total private for-hire rides in Portland, according to the report. Taxis accounted for the other 57 percent, or roughly 130,000 rides.
“My impression, looking at the report, is that it seems like the experiment we’re running seems to be working pretty well for consumers,” Commissioner Steve Novick said during the meeting.
Drivers, and other representatives from the ride-hailing sector, were out in force at the council meeting, touting the benefits of the app-based services in their public comments. But, mirroring a narrative that has played out in other cities, drivers of traditional taxicabs knocked Uber and Lyft, saying the companies were hurting their business, and flouting city rules.
“These guys are running amok,” said Raymond Roche, a cab driver who said he’d seen his income drop 30 to 40 percent since ride hailing began in the Portland.
In her comments to the The Oregonian, EcoCab’s Jones highlighted a number of things that she felt would make EcoCab an attractive option for Portland consumers, even with Lyft and Uber already competing for business in the city’s taxi market.
She said: “We're all-electric, which is better for the environment. We have the Tesla Model S. We have beautiful, clean cars. We're also pulling away from the contractor aspect of cab drivers. EcoCab hires its drivers and pays them hourly wages plus benefits.”
In addition to the Teslas and vans, EcoCab’s fleet also includes Nissan Leafs.
The company is based in Longview, Washington, a city that is about 50 miles north of Portland. EcoCab currently provides electric vehicle taxi service in Longview, and other nearby areas.
(Photo by Hadrian / Shutterstock.com)
Bill Lucia is a Reporter for Government Executive’s Route Fifty.
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