Blogging

How EnviroCAB Grew and Evolved Over the Years

In October 2012, EnviroCAB added an electric car to its fleet and was the first of its kind in Virginia. The company spent around $36,000 in acquiring a Nissan Leaf, which was more than $10,000 of what it pays on average for its other hybrid cars. EnviroCAB also installed a charging station at their offices in Columbia Pike for a cost of $6,000. The addition of the Nissan Leaf electric car increased EnviroCAB’s fleet from 49 to 50. At the time, EnviroCAB was already operating hybrid taxicabs such as Camry hybrids, Highlander Hybrids, and Toyota Priuses.

Since EnviroCAB was launched in 2007, the company’s objective was to have a fleet with zero emissions and regularly bought carbon offsets for the discharge from their taxicabs. The addition of the all-electric car to their already impressive fleet further solidified this goal. The price of a ride on the Nissan Leaf remained the same as that in Envirocab’s other hybrid vehicles. The electric car was to be charged twice a day, once halfway through the day and again overnight. The range of the car was limited to an eighty-mile radius.

In 2013, transportation company Veolia transportation acquired the 50 fleet EnviroCAB, with the help of outside investments and Provident. Envirocab had set the standards for hybrid cars by that time, and other taxicab companies were beginning to follow suit. Veolia Transportation was operating a fleet of over 2400 taxicabs in different parts of America when it bought EnviroCAB. The acquisition of EnviroCAB by Veolia Transportation’s On Demand division, although relatively small, would continue the department’s efforts towards more environmentally friendly transportation. The move would also complement EnviroCAB’s operation around Dulles International Airport and other areas.

In the last quarter of 2017, there were reports from customers that EnviroCAB’s services were deteriorating. Sometimes customers would request a ride from EnviroCAB, but no cab would show up. Soon after, people started getting a response saying that the number was no longer in service every time they called EnviroCAB. Their website displayed the message, “Temporarily out of service.”

On November 1, 2017, Ashley Savage, the spokeswoman for Arlington County Police Department, announced that EnviroCAB had closed and was no longer operational. This closure was a major blow for cab users since some of them had regularly been using EnviroCAB’s taxi service since 2008 and now had to switch up and adapt to using other cab services.

Reviews by EnviroCAB Users

Generally, reviews from people who have taken a ride in EnviroCAB’s hybrid vehicles have been positive. The most common positive review has been about the company’s commitment to environmental conservation and the installation of carbon offsets. Some people loved the company’s environmentally friendly service so much that they decided to become loyal customers. People who have given the company a positive review also say that cab drivers are very prompt when it comes to keeping time and sometimes even arrive earlier than expected. This is a big contrast to some of the big companies where clients often complain about drivers being late. Another reason why EnviroCAB users have applauded the company is the cabs were relatively clean and presentable as compared to vehicles from other cab companies. One reviewer reported that there was a fresh bottle of water, some candy in the cup holder, and a neat newspaper during his ride with EnviroCAB. All EnviroCAB’s taxi cabs accept credit cards and have credit card machines that print receipts very swiftly. This has been very advantageous for people who prefer using credit cards over cash.

Despite Some Hiccups, EnviroCAB Delivers Satisfied Customers

Some EnviroCAB users have complained about the drivers not knowing basic routes. For example, a user had requested a ride from Arlington to Union Station, but the driver did not have any clue about how to get there. It was slightly nerve-wracking to watch the driver cluelessly fumble on the GPS, given that Union Station is as fundamental a D.C. landmark as you can find. Some users have also pointed out that although the driver arrived impeccably first when you request a ride from Arlington, the same is not the case when requesting a ride from other places. For example, a reviewer says that he had once booked a ride one day in advance from Tysons corner to Reagan International airport, but the cab didn’t show up on time. After waiting for some time, the customer called EnviroCAB to inquire about the delay, and to his surprise, was told that there were no cabs available in the area and wasn’t given a specific time frame of when one would come to pick him up. There have also been some complaints that sometimes drivers take the longer route to a destination despite the clients suggesting a shorter route.

Sometimes dispatchers are not keen when entering details, and this can result in the delay of a requested ride and sometimes causing the trip to have to be canceled. There have been some reports about EnviroCAB dispatchers being impolite, not apologizing, and refusing to accept fault when such a situation occurs. For example, after calling EnviroCAB when the cab doesn’t show up, people are often told by the dispatcher that the ride was canceled because the driver called, but nobody picked up. Sometimes, this can be true, and other times it is false, but the dispatcher still insists that the call was made.

All in all, most people agree that EnviroCAB’s decision to use hybrid vehicles for its operations was an essential move towards more environmentally friendly cabs. The company has set the pace for other cab companies and has been an inspiration for many ecologically friendly ideas by cab companies. Although there was a change in ownership to Veolia Transportation, the company’s underlying philosophy remained the same.

What is EnviroCAB?

EnviroCAB was a cab company that was well-known for environmentally sustainable measures in its operations. EnviroCAB started in 2007 as a company providing taxi services in Arlington, Virginia. It was the first cab company to be launched in Arlington County since 1984, and the 7th to operate in Arlington. The model of EnviroCAB was to exclusively operate hybrid vehicles making it the first hybrid taxicab company in America. EnviroCAB’s slogan was “clean air for the same fare” , given that it provided alternative taxicabs that emit less carbon dioxide for the regular price charged by other cab companies. At the time of its launch, EnviroCAB was a leader in it’s kind in Virginia in that no other cab company was offering a similar service.

The idea of EnviroCAB came to the founder Hans Hess as he was in a cab having a conversation with the driver. Hans Hess had always been passionate about businesses that have health values, both to the society, as well as to the environment. He first established his reputation in D.C. when he launched the Elevation Burger Restaurant focusing on lean, organic burgers and fries that were prepared using olive oil. During the conversation, he realized that hybrid cabs would be a more economically advantageous model for the driver by helping them reduce their gasoline expenses. They would also be useful in reducing the amount of carbon emitted by cabs. Therefore he decided to start a company with all these features.

His hypothesis about hybrid cars being more economically advantageous to cab drivers than regular cabs turned out to be correct. One EnviroCAB taxicab driver reported spending $50 on gas every three days, which is an average of $17 every day. Such savings are essential to cab drivers who sometimes have to make monthly payments on car loans and auto insurance. Taxicab customers were very excited about EnviroCAB’s environmentally friendly service and because their cabs were clean and produced little or no noise. Sometimes customers would get so excited that they would jump the line in taxicab stands to ride on EnviroCAB’s hybrid vehicles, a behavior that other taxicab drivers do not appreciate. However, they couldn’t prevent customers from making a choice of which cab to take.

Initially, the company made an application to operate a fleet of 100 vehicles, but Arlington County Transportation recommended 35 certificates. On August 17, 2007, EnviroCAB announced that the company had been given a recommendation to operate a fleet of fifty cabs within Arlington county by the county manager Ron Carlee. This development marked an increase of fifteen certificates from what had been initially recommended by the county’s Transportation Commission.

The company pledged to reduce the emission level of all their taxicabs to zero and to do away with the emission of 2 existing cabs for every cab they put on the road using their plan to offset the emission of carbon dioxide. One of EnviroCAB’s fleet’s earliest editions was the Toyota Prius- an environmentally friendly model and a leader in its field. One of the advantages of the Toyota Prius was that it had lots of space, which is always a good idea for a cab. It also had high energy and fuel efficiency and performed relatively better than most hybrid vehicles. The model was also attractive to the company due to its low maintenance requirements.