Longview-based taxi company enters Portland

EcoCab, equipped with a fleet of Teslas, joins fray amid pilot program for ridesharing companies like Uber, Lyft.

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EcoCab, equipped with a fleet of Teslas, is joining the Portland fray amid a pilot program that allows ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft.

Oregonian transportation reporter Joseph Rose, conducted an interview with Leah Jones, general manager of EcoCab in Portland, to ask if now is a good time to join a crowded for-hire transportation market.

Some findings: EcoCab will have 15 cars circulating the city; it wants to add five vehicles a month; people can request a ride in a Tesla, or be content with a Nissan Leaf or a van for disabled customers.

Isn’t this a crazy time to get in the taxi business in Portland? In fact, in the past few months, Uber overtook taxis as the most expensed form of ground transportation in the nation, according to a recent expense management system survey. All the signs say taxis are losing business. What makes you think you can compete in what has suddenly become a cutthroat market in Portland?

Jones: We’ve been planning to start up in Portland for over a year, before we realized Uber would come into the picture. But I think EcoCab will really appeal to the progressive, eco-friendly consumer in Portland. 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. There are many reasons to use our service and to support the company.

(SOURCE: OregonLive.com)

Meanwhile, drivers for traditional taxi companies addressed the Portland City Council on Wednesday to bemoan life after Uber.

Drivers for the ridesharing companies were also there, presenting a different side of the story.

A string of veteran taxi drivers said their income had been slashed 30 to 50 percent since late-April, when the city allowed Uber and Lyft and their low-cost, do-it-yourself taxi network into the once heavily regulated Portland taxi market for a four-month pilot project. An equal number of Uber and Lyft drivers who are new to the field testified that they’ve found lucrative and enjoyable new work when they had little, and are quite happy with the money they’re making since turning their personal cars into taxis hailed via smartphones.

City Commissioner Steve Novick, who oversees transportation and is leading the charge to deregulate the taxi industry here, said the city’s experiment seems to be paying off, at least for some: “It seems to be working pretty well for consumers,” Novick said at the onset of Wednesday’s hearing. “I want to have more information about the impact on and welfare of drivers.”

(SOURCE: Portland Tribune)

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