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Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com February 28, 2011 at 8:20 am 1,328 38 Comments

More Names Mentioned for Senate Seat — Is there a Democrat in Arlington County who’s active in local politics and who’s not thinking about running for the state Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple? Add Alan Howze, former Arlington County Democratic Committee chairman Peter Rousselot, county board member Jay Fisette and Del. Bob Brink to the five names we mentioned as possible candidates on Friday. [Sun Gazette, Washington Post]

Cava Still Hoping for Spring Opening — Construction has yet to begin on the new Cava restaurant on Clarendon Boulevard, but the owner of the upscale Greek restaurant still hopes to open by “late April or early May.” Cava currently has locations in Rockville and on Capitol Hill. [TBD]

Envirocab Still Wants to Expand — The general manager of Arlington-based Envirocab says the company is still hoping to expand. The county board rejected Envirocab’s request to add more cabs to its fleet of 50 hybrids in December. But the company says they don’t “even come close to covering the requests they get each weekend.” [WAMU]

Arlington Science Focus School Profiled — A local TV station takes a look at some of the unique learning methods at Arlington Science Focus school. [WUSA 9]

  • Burger

    If metro decided to shut down at Midnight (they should or charge more), expanding cab service is a no brainer.

  • Overgrown Bush

    Is Envirocab still using strictly hybrids? I would guess some clean diesel models compete in mileage and emissions now. I’ve also read some diesel hybrids are going to be rolled out, which should blow away gas hybrids in mileage ratings.

    • borf

      Good point. And diesel is practical for fleets with a central fuel pumping source.

      • Overgrown Bush

        Yes, and biodiesel can be used to even make it greener. We don’t see much more than 10% ethanol used in gasoline. Besides, all the ethanol mandate is doing is driving up the price of corn and food derived from corn. I’m not sure how adding ethanol helps since it lowers the energy content of the fuel. I suppose it somehow improves the emissions by adding more oxygen to the fuel.

        • mehoo

          I thought the main point of ethanol was to reduce gas prices, not reduce emissions. Won’t help with that much either though.

          • Overgrown Bush

            At one point ethanol was used only in the winter as a replacement for MTBE (which was deemed environmentally a disaster)as an oxygenate. If I recall correctly, the price of this reformulated gas was higher than regular gasoline. So, I’m not sure it was price related. It could be to reduce our dependence on foreign supplies, thus maybe lowering the market value of the reformulation. With $4 gasoline looming, it hasn’t worked.

          • borf

            It was definitely designed to lower fuel prices too.

          • Burger

            But raise food prices.

          • R. Griffin

            I think there are several reasons, but many liked the idea as it is a domestic and renewable source with much less environmental impact than oil drilling. Can you imagine a giant corn spill? 🙂

            But it was also thought to be competitive with rising fuel prices. Some were trying to move towards a model like Brazil (I think) where they switch freely between petroleum and bio fuels based on current market conditions.

          • borf

            Corn spill? It could happen. Reminds me of the deadly molasses spill of 1919. Yes, for real.

            http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2009/01/dayintech_0115

        • LyonSteve

          Biodiesel is not good for many of the new diesels coming out that use ULSD.

    • Lacy Forest

      I love the concept of a Diesel, but I am not going to drive around in a Diesel that requires that I carry a bottle of urine around under the back seat.

    • R. Griffin

      I doubt it. Hybrids are extremely well suited to stop-and-go traffic around town, whereas diesels have much better fuel savings on the highway.

      I would like to see a hybrid diesel, though, and have often wondered why nobody else has brought one to market. Most likely b/c the hybrid crowd is turned off by the additional pollutants vs. gas (even with recent advances).

      Maybe they’ll buy some compressed natural gas cars. They’re being used with several fleets out in CA.

  • Skeptic

    I should have asked this back when the Board was considering the issue, but what are the arguments against expanded cab fleets?

    • TaxiTaker

      About a dozen cab drivers testified that there was an over-saturation of cabs on the street prowling for the same customers and that they couldn’t make a living. The data from the hack inpector (cop who monitors cabs) backed them up – especially at the cab stands. Envirocab’s argument is that they were unique among the companies with their all-hybrid fleet and that demand for their unique product was not being satisfied. There were a few customers who talked about difficulty in getting a cab at certain times or in certain places – only the problem is you can’t tell cabbies where or when they have to work.

      • Snookie

        The only place I have ever seen with an over abundance of cabs waiting, ever, is in front of the Clarendon Grill. If you try to get one to a residence it can take over an hour sometimes.

    • Lou

      More cabs on the street means less people taking transit.

      • Thes

        Actually cabs are *part* of our public transportation system. Taxis at metro stations allow people to take trains for part of their trip, and the final (or initial) portion in a vehicle. They also cover for trains and buses after-hours. For people unable to drive their own car, taxis ensure that they can get to any place in the County (or region) if transit won’t be able to provide them the whole trip in an expedited fashion.

        • Lou

          Cabs compete directly with buses at Metro stations. People will pay to take a cab late at night rather than wait 45 minutes for the next bus. That happens all the time throughout the day as well. Every ride in a cab deprives buses of revenue, and we all know how much Metro needs every dime they can get.

          • Thes

            Buses also “compete” with trains, bicycles ( now available for a charge at many metro stations ) and walking. Travel choices are good.

          • Lou

            Limiting taxis limits choices.

          • CabsRock

            For the late night crowd, I don’t see it as one or the other! I don’t know anyone who would take a metro bus home from the bars in Clarendon! Can you imagine all those drunk people trying to figure out what line they need to get on?

            Apples to oranges.

          • southerner

            (in Foghorn Leghorn accent):

            I say, you’re in Virginia now, son. You get IN line, not ON line around heah. Learn proper English or go back to your godforsaken Yankee state.

          • CabsRock

            Hey smarty pants, “a line” means the 5A or 10B, which refers to a bus. You get ON a bus. Clearly you aren’t using the buses either.

          • Maria

            I take the bus home from Clarendon all the time… because I already know what line to use. It’s not that hard to figure out in advance.

            (Plus, besides the ART buses, there’s only one Metro line that runs through Clarendon, though I’m guessing that wasn’t specifically your point).

  • JimPB

    Why is the county limiting the number of cabs? Inspect and license the vehicles for safety and insurance. Then let the marketplace rule as with other businesses.

    • TAXI4Ever

      Jim, I would normally agree, but I think the county (and other counties) already regulate the fares taxis can charge (I could be wrong) – so if you have unlimited taxis in Arlington, all with a license to work, they will have a strong lobby arguing how the current rates are not enough to let them all make a living leading to please to our liberal county officials arguing the county needs to raise rates so they can provide for their families. If the county did not regulate the rates (and focused on vehicle maintenance, insurance and background checks), then I would agree – free market competition would be best.

    • Cranky Crankypants

      Amazingly, ArlCo is nationally-recognized as having very good taxi regulations – and that includes the number of vehilces issued a hack license. If you think “the marketplace” handles it well, just look the the mess there is across the river in DC. Too many drivers to review, too many vehicles to inspect, too many gypsies to catch. Add to that the drivers working 18-hour days to make a living. That does not lead to a save ride for the consumer or for other road users.

      • CW

        Could the same thing be said about asian restaurants in falls church,for example?

        Sorry, but I don’t really see how the county should be putting a cap on the ability of a privately-owned for-profit entity to expand in response to market demands.

      • Bluemont John

        All great points. Also–and I admit this is purely observational–but it seems to me that cabbies are among the very worst drivers on the road. There are plenty of bad drivers who aren’t cabbies, but I see them routinely dropping off/picking up in the middle of a crosswalk, running stopsigns, etc. (Moreso in DC than Arlington, however.) We definitely need cabs, but too many will create a traffic and congestion nightmare.

        • Snookie

          Metro buses are probably the worst with cabbies a close second.

        • CW

          So, this is actually a very interesting post in that it somewhat parallels the argument that people are making over on the cop struck by car thread, that more bars in an area = more drunk drivers. By assuming that cabbies have to be bad drivers, it’s almost implicitly condoning the fact, just like saying that having more bars in an area will instantly result in more drunk drivers. No, with proper deterrence and enforcement, it won’t. As someone who spends a ton of time riding his bike and walks most places on weekends, etc., cabbies scare the hell out of me. They scare me only slightly less when I am driving because then I mostly fear for my car, as opposed to my life. However, how about we start ticketing and cracking down on this bad behavior? How about targeted enforcement? How about suspension of cab licenses, rather than just saying “boys will be boys” when it comes to dangerous cab driving?

    • Thes

      Jim PB,

      The market can properly set supply only if the price resulting from that supply and the customer demand is also set by the market.

      The worldwide practice for taxis is that the price charged to customers is set by the government, and this is also true in Arlington. Taxis’ major customers include out-of-towners, are highly mobile and must begin a transaction quickly as they are stopped curbside. This makes it impractical for many potential customers to “shop around” for the best price or for alternate qualities of service.

      Because price and service levels are set by the government, the market will not do a good job of setting supply on its own. So government also appropriately sets supply.

  • V Dizzle

    Ethanol is added partly to take moisture out of the tanks. Ethyl alcohol is highly water phylic. (Which is part of its downfall along with the economics and energy cost to derive it)

    • Overgrown Bush

      I think that is primarily true if you go out and buy a bottle of HEET. I’m not so sure that was the intent of adding it to blends. We got through many decades without the blend after all.

  • curiousVoter

    What I want to know is if anyone has filed to oppose Abby Raphael in the school board elections? Filing deadline is here!

  • OddNumber

    I think it is reasonable that the county limit the number of taxis. However, there should be some mechanism to ensure the taxis in service have the same level of service that would have been provided by the cars that were denied entry into the marketplace. Besides being hybrid vehicles, Envirocab also provides credit card services in all of its vehicles. Especially at DCA you can wait a while for a cab that offers credit card services.

  • John Andre

    I’m wondering what’s in store for the 49th District seat if Del. Ebbin gets the nod for Patsy Ticer’s seat.

    Will we have a contested primary or perhaps even a two-party general election contest???

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