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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 03/26/2008

Arlington: Meet the EnviroCAB

By Dan Stillman
New on the streets of Arlington, enviroCAB claims to be "the world's first carbon-negative taxi fleet." Credit: EnviroCAB

Walking the streets of Rosslyn last week, I couldn't help but notice a curious-looking vehicle amongst the stop-and-go of Wilson Boulevard -- a shiny, white-and-green taxi named "enviroCAB." My first thought was, "How much more will it cost me to ride an environmentally friendly taxi?"

Turns out it costs the same as any other cab in Arlington. But the similarities end there.

EnviroCAB, which claims to be "the world's first carbon-negative taxi fleet," is in the process of rolling out its 50-vehicle fleet consisting exclusively of Toyota and Ford hybrids. The company says that an enviroCAB will emit 60 percent less carbon dioxide than a standard cab, and that it will offset its remaining emissions (and then some) by purchasing offset credits.

Buying an offset credit is essentially like paying a self-imposed tax toward the production of "clean" energy. The money goes to one or more companies that generate environmentally friendly energy, such as wind or solar power, which is more expensive to produce than energy created by the burning of coal, oil or natural gas. The payment helps the clean-energy company to stay profitable, and the energy it produces is placed on to the nation's energy grid, reducing the need for higher-polluting energies derived from fossil fuels.

As explained by the Washbiz Blog, Silver Spring's will help enviroCAB to calculate its vehicle emissions and how much it needs to pay in offset credits, and to distribute the money to clean-energy companies.

Arlington's Red Top Cab was the first to bring hybrid taxis to the county, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has a plan to convert his city's entire fleet of taxis to hybrids by 2012.

Would you ride an enviroCAB? Frankly, I'll take any taxi that doesn't try to rip me off with the zone system. Helping out the environment is icing on the cake.

By Dan Stillman  | March 26, 2008; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Environment  
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Yes they are great - my company is using these guys now!

Posted by: Camden, Capital Weather Gang | March 26, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

I don't take cabs often, but I have stored Envirocab's phone number in my cell phone in case I need them.

Posted by: arlington | March 26, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

"Would you ride an enviroCAB? Frankly, I'll take any taxi that doesn't try to rip me off with the zone system. Helping out the environment is icing on the cake."

Dan - you need to discuss this issue with Marc Fisher at your newspaper. The great defender of D.C. cab corruption through the zone system.

Posted by: Rotten Fish | March 26, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad they're finally up and running! I'd been seeing their first few vehicles in my neighborhood for months before they were able to get onto the streets.

An interesting side effect of them petitioning and being granted their licenses or whatever it is called is that iirc all new cabs brought into any fleet in arlington has to be hybrid now. So they're a great company themselves, and they'll push all Arlington cabs to be hybrid sooner than would otherwise have happened.

Now if only we could get hybrids to have really good milage instead of just a little bit better milage...

Posted by: debiguity | March 26, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

The zone system is a blatant ripoff. No wonder cab drivers oppose it with such vigor. Plus the minimum fare in NYC is $2.50 and we will have $3.00 or $4.00?

Posted by: Uncle Dak | March 26, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

er uh . . . no wonder they oppose meters with such vigor . . .

Posted by: Uncle Dak | March 26, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

er uh . . . no wonder they oppose meters with such vigor . . .

Posted by: Uncle Dak | March 26, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

It is certainly an interesting concept. I have a lot of negative opinions about carbon offsets (paying to avoid responsibility for your own polution is what it amounts to - and in many cases it just allows the U.S. to continue to consume at the expense of poorer countriess), but at least they are taking another positive step.

Posted by: Southside FFX | March 26, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

FYI: The USA Today link seems to be broken.

Posted by: jtf | March 26, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Thanks jtf ... much appreciated. Should be fixed now.

Posted by: Capital Weather Gang | March 26, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

I love this company for at least 2 reasons: first is the obvious environmental benefit. I feel so much better about using them than another company.

Second, they have great service. I live in South Arlington, and Red Top has not provided me and some of my neighbors with good service. More than once I've been left waiting, even when I scheduled a cab a day in advance.

EnviroCab is located in South Arlington, and seems to take pride in providing our community with the service it has lacked in the past.

Posted by: 2 Reasons to Love Them | March 27, 2008 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Enviro cab is owned by the same company as Red Top. Do a little more digging and you will find that these vehicles are not as friendly as you think. The drivers will nto drive them because of the costs

Posted by: Wrong | March 27, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Meters are more of a rip-off than a zone system. If you're at a hotel in a city with a zone system, and they know the zonal fare to your destination, it will be correct; e.g., your fare will be $3.00; with a meter it may range from $3.00 to $7.00 because a meter measures both time AND distance. In a zone-system, the fare is the same no matter how long it takes the driver to get you there, with a meter, if s/he drives to Timbuktu, you will pay for the fare to Timbuktu, not the flat zone fare.

Posted by: RW | March 28, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

This is the owner of enviroCAB. In response to the comment posted by "Wrong" I just want to set the record straight because he truly is wrong.

First, we are in no way affiliated with Red Top. Second, these vehicles use, on average approximately 1/3rd of the gas that a gas guzzling sedan used by other companies in the area. This fact inherently makes them more environmentally friendly. If you look at the specs for the Toyota Prius and Camry, you will also find significant reductions in other types of green house gasses. Finally, we were given the license to operate 50 vehicles and we have drivers for all 50 of them. In fact we also have a waiting list of 45 more drivers. The fact is, drivers are coming to us in droves because they can save $10,000 a year in gas, which more than covers the additional cost of buying a hybrid.

Posted by: enviroCAB | March 28, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

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