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All-Electric, WiFi-Enabled Cabs Get Nod from County Manager

by ARLnow.com October 16, 2012 at 5:05 pm 9,757 109 Comments

If the Arlington County Board goes along with a new set of recommendations from County Manager Barbara Donnellan, Arlington could soon be served by a fleet of 40 all-electric cabs equipped with 4G WiFi hotspots and iPads for passenger use.

As part of this year’s taxicab certificate allocation process, Donnellan is recommending that a total of 65 additional taxis be added to the county’s existing licensed fleet of 765 cabs. Among the companies receiving a recommended allocation from Donnellan is an Arlington-based upstart, EV Taxicabs.

The company is set to get permits to operate 40 cabs in Arlington under Donnellan’s recommendation. According to EV Taxicabs’ website and Facebook page, the cabs will be all-electric Nissan Leafs, a five-door hatchback that gets the equivalent of 99 miles per gallon.

In addition to being all-electric, the cabs will be equipped with a high-speed 4G WiFi hotspot and an Apple iPad, both for passenger use. The cabs will be dispatched using what’s described as a “state-of-the-art cloud-based dispatch solution… running on Samsung Galaxy 7 tablet.” Passengers will be able to book the cabs via smart phone or the company’s website.

In addition to the cabs, the company has pledged to install more than 50 electric vehicle chargers around Arlington.

Donnellan writes that based on a scale that considers various factors — including environmental impact, customer service, business feasibility and employee treatment — EV Taxicabs received the highest rating of any cab applicant. (Ten companies applied this year.)

Based on the rating system, EV Taxicab was rated the highest of all applicants. It will be installing a number of quick charge stations throughout the County that will be available to the general public as well as their drivers. This will encourage additional usage of zero emission vehicles, helping Arlington County to be a pioneer in this new technology.

The EV Taxicab applicant is a current Arlington County taxi driver. He is bringing his experience and wants to address and cooperate with County staff to improve the drivers’ profession. He proposes to provide training, two week annual vacation, health and fitness club membership, financial management training, customer service training, assistance with legal representation and is looking into providing life insurance for drivers. The EV Taxicab application impressed County staff through its use of technology and its apparent commitment to fair treatment for its drivers.

EV Taxicabs is not the only non-traditional cab company set to benefit from Donnellan’s recommendation. The “carbon-negative” EnviroCab company is set to receive 10 additional cab allocations. Separately, the company recently announced plans to add one all-electric Nissan Leaf to its current fleet of 49 hybrids.

Under the County Manager’s recommendations, Friendly Cab, Blue Top Cab and Red Top Cab will each be allowed to add five additional taxis to their fleet. The recommendations specify that Blue Top and Red Top are to add only wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

Donnellan’s recommendations will be considered by the County Board at its Nov. 17 meeting.

  • Josh S

    Awesome. Although I’d love to know how they define “quick charge.” Are we talking Tesla quick? If so, this is not just awesome, it’s super awesome.

    • The quick charge takes 30 minutes, according to the EV Taxicabs Facebook page.

      • Josh S

        That’s fantastic.

  • Dave

    Great news…if you’re not tall. Can’t imagine those Leafs have a whole lot of leg room.

  • novasteve

    Final straw. I’m moving. Maybe if they lacked the ipads it wouldn’t be so horrible, but to just confirm the stereotypes about what it’s like here….

    • TomTom

      See ya! Give ARLNow back to the people.

    • esmith69

      Best news I’ve heard all week

    • Rob

      *I’ll* miss you novasteve, or at least, I’ll miss the lulz

    • Ralph

      We’ll miss you.

    • Glebe Roader

      I don’t believe you.

    • have to agree, ipads in cabs is ridiculous.

      but i don’t believe u… ur staying… if not, i’ll miss u steve… *howls into the night sky for novasteve*

    • SteamboatWillie

      You can go live with Rush Limbaugh, who moved to Costa Rica as promised after Obama won in 2008. Oh wait.

      Anyway, enjoy the move. Make sure to pack a lot of that manly apple beer that you claimed to like.

    • drax

      How does someone using an iPad in a cab affect your life in any way, Steve?

    • Josh S

      Maybe you can start your own cab service where the back seat is a wooden plank and patrons must listen to recordings of the Unabomber’s manifesto.

  • G Clifford Prout (now moderated for extra purity)

    I’ll take an electric cab to all my connecting stops off the electric streetcar. Can’t wait!

  • John Fontain

    Looks like we better brace ourselves for higher taxi fares! iPads, wifi hotspots, gym memberships?

    • SomeGuy

      The EV Taxicab application impressed County staff through its use of technology…

      John, can’t you just be impressed by the use of technology for technology’s sake? County staff is. They’re using Apple products, and even mention the word “cloud” in the description, so it must be great for those two reasons alone.

  • Scott

    They look small. Not very practical for a cab actually

    • TomTom
      • Scott

        Clicked on your link & those all look like hatchbacks to me. What about airport pick ups for a family with lots of luggage -or- big people making a Wal-mart run for more donuts & cheez-its?

        • BrianKal

          Agreeing the Prius is small, but they are already in use so the Leaf is no smaller than that currently being used.

          • Greg

            The Prius actually has a good amount of cargo room for its size. I’ve talked to the Envirocab guys and some of them prefer the Prius over the Camry because the cargo room is more flexible.

            That said, I would probably call a Leaf cab if I’m going solo to Reagan. But not if the family is going.

          • Scott

            Solo passengers isn’t very eco friendly

        • Josh S

          Uhh, take a different cab?

  • James Moron

    I’m sure the iPads will be well-treated by drunk flip floppers stumbling out of Clarendon Ballroom.

  • SomeGuy

    What does this even mean?

    The cabs will be dispatched using what’s described as a “state-of-the-art cloud-based dispatch solution… running on Samsung Galaxy 7 tablet.”

    Interesting choice to mix iPads (are they really necessary?) and Samsung Galaxy in the overall solution too.

    • Rob

      guessing it means the driver will use his smartphone to post up and get dispatched

      • DCBuff

        Driving while texting. Excellent. How long until one of these flips?

    • patb

      sounds like the dispatch software will run on something like amazon AWS so the firm won’t need to hire any IT people and the cabbies will get run orders or elect which ones they want to service by clicking on an app that’s powered by something like Google maps.

      it could well be customers request a cab by making a request using an App or a webpage and the software auto dispatches, or lets the cab drivers who are idle elect to take runs
      so it may not have much of a dispatch center.

  • Leaves

    So apparently the 2013 Leaf has a range of 103 miles. Does that mean every 103 miles it has to recharge for 30 minutes? Or is there also a small gas engine in the Leaf that takes over to increase the range, like a hybrid car does? If the range is only 103 miles it seems like the cabs would need to recharge quite often. I don’t know many cab drivers that would want to sit around for 30 minutes a few times a night when they could be working. I guess the savings in gas may make up for it though, I don’t know.

    • esmith69

      That’s why they’re also planning on installing a bunch of charging stations throughout the county. This way, while they’re, for example, having a break for lunch or something, they can be charging the car.

      Boston for at least the past few years has been requiring all of its taxis to at least be hybrid vehicles. Glad to see Arlington is finally becoming more green with its cabs.

      • Leaves

        Yeah I get that. I’m just wondering how many times they are going to have to sit around for 30 minutes plus to charge their car every day and night since the cars don’t seem to have that big of a range.

        • Greg

          There’s no gas engine. And range can be much less under real world driving conditions.

          But it’s a private company. If it doesn’t work, who cares. And Arlington gets charging stations that hopefully would be available to private citizens? That sounds like a win-win to me.

          • Leaves

            Yep, the charging stations sound good. I was just curious about the car itself and how that would all work with the range.

            As for the charging stations, will they be available to the general public as well and if so how much will they cost per hour? Arlnow, any idea?

          • Chris Slatt

            Their plan was that they would be available to the public yes. They do plan on charging for the electricity. They seem to have a good grasp on the technology but I’m afraid they don’t grasp the regulatory hurdles and costs they may run into when dealing with electricity.

            One of my major concerns with the company is that I don’t think they fully understand what it will take to fulfill their vision. It’s a great vision, but I’m afraid they will run out of capital before they ever get a charging station installed anywhere.

          • HolyPeristalsis

            These charging stations will collect dust
            like 80% of the handicapped spaces and zipcar

            The standard driver is becoming extinct. Pretty soon
            street side parking will become illegal.

            Driveway what’s a driveway?

          • Josh S

            Bingo. I can’t understand all the comments here criticising. So don’t use the service! Who cares whether you find it suitable or otherwise. In the meantime, they’re going to install, on their own dime, all these charging stations that can be used by the public? And they charge your vehicle in the time it takes you to eat lunch or do some shopping? Incredible. Huge, huge leap forward for all-electric vehicles.

        • Josh S

          Do cabs typically drive more than 100 miles a day in Arlington?

          • brown before green

            Most taxis are driven about 150-200 miles a day, so they’d need to recharge once, maybe twice a day. Not that much different from refueling a Crown Vic once a day.

          • DCBuff

            A Crown Vic driving 150-200 miles doesn’t need to be refueled.

  • HighViewPunk

    How easily can these cabs be flipped?

    • Grant

      Considering that the 600 pound battery is beneath the seats at the bottom of the car, the Leaf is much less likely to flip than just about any other car on the road.

  • novasteve

    And when these cabs start refusing service because of the distances being too far?

    • Village Genius

      What do you care, you are leaving!

    • JimPB

      Thought you had moved away , NoVaSteve.

    • drax

      The Nissan Leaf has a range of more than 100 miles in city driving, steve.

    • Josh S

      They’ll get fewer patrons?


  • Chris Slatt

    This goes before the Transportation Commission on November 1st before it goes the board for a final decision. As a Transportation Comission member let me tell you if you’ve got an opinion on how these tax certificates should get distributed we are all ears.

    • patb2009

      I think the allocation should be made upon the best environmental value for the people. So I’d score them based upon expected Electric utilization, then the number of chargers installed in the county, then the number of chargers accessible to the public, then
      the amount of renewable energy production consumed, then, best green operating/maintenance practices. The idea being give extra credit if all the chargers they install are publically accessible, and give triple credit for Level 3 chargers installed, and allow in theory a Chevy Volt fleet with a lot of public chargers to score as well as a Electic fleet with no public chargers.

  • JnA

    It’s about time.

  • JimPB


    I like that the new company for the electric taxis has an experienced taxi driver as its leader, and rightful good benefits for drivers.

    There is an interesting as yet untold story here … how did the taxi driver who leads the new electric cab company acquire the management skills and substantial financial required for the vehicles, the 50 charging stations around ArlCo, the company’s base station and the additional funds required for start-up (interviewing, assessing, hiring and training) and while business develops? Did ArlCo assess the financial resources of the new company for viability?

    • Debs

      Why not use a Volt instead? Seems more practical.

    • DCBuff

      Jim, interesting questions. Perhaps ArlCo is subsidizing this firm, just like the bikes, housing, Artiswaste and everything else in town.

  • malaka

    one thing they could do if they reallly care about becoming more efficient and environmentally “friendly” would be to let DC cabs pick up after dropping people here. Same for Dulles cabs and cabs dropping at Dulles. All these 1 direction trips are a bad thing!

    • CrystalMikey

      Same thing for DC. The ARL cabs should be allowed to take a fare back across the Potomac.

    • SomeGuy

      Very good point.

  • George

    So who is going to pay for the charging stations and electricty to operate them? Arlington? Most likely – so Arlington might as well give fuel vouchers to existing cab companies.

    How about installing massive sheets of solar panels on every building in Arlington along with wind turbines to power the charging stations.

    • DCBuff

      Please don’t give the tax and spenders on the ArlCo board any additional ideas for spending money.

  • Boo

    When are people going to learn that electric cars are not emissions free? Your electricity came from somewhere, most likely coal…

    • drax

      True, but only some of it comes from coal. And it moves the emissions away from the city, where they are at dangerous levels.

    • CW

      Taking it all the way back to the source, even coal-based electricity is cleaner on a normalized basis than a gasoline internal combustion engine.

      • Quoth the Raven

        Is that true? That’s really interesting; I would not have thought that. Coal mining always seemed so much more environmentally harmful than oil drilling (of course, it’s a relative thing). And I also had heard that making the batteries for the electric cars used a ton of energy. But frankly I haven’t bothered to do the research on it. Interesting issue, though –

        • WeiQiang

          There is harm to the environment beyond emissions. Removing mountaintops and dealing with the resulting run-off is significant. Then again, we can always rely on “North American Energy Independence” to save the US the indignation of ruining its own landscape, whereby we let the hosers in Canada scrape off the face of Alberta to get oil out of the tar sands and then store the toxic water in massive lakes forever.

        • drax

          Well, I think CW is talking about emissions, not the extraction part.

          Oil drilling can be extremely harmful to the environment. Depends on where and how its done, and what leaks.

        • Quoth the Raven

          CW said “all the way back to the source” so I think he/she was talking about more than emissions.

        • letmesplain

          its not about how you produce the electricity

          its that electric cars are so much more efficient than internal combustion engines – their MPG equivalent in BTU terms is higher than for conventionals or even hybrids.

          Would it be better if the plants were fueled with oil or nat gas intead of coal? sure. Powering them with oil is not close to economical. Powering them with nat gas is happening, increasingly.

  • B22201

    In China. . . but same idea. Not like we’re using nuclear or wind for our electricity around here.


  • Mike Honcho

    iPads??? A 10 minute ride (Clarendon to Fairlington) is already $20, and now we’re gonna put $750 worth the equipment in the car, which will hike the rates more? Why don’t we put a Korean masseuse, snack bar, and keg in every cab?

    We get this upgrade when 9/10 cab drivers cannot find their way around Arlington without a Garmin. Keep on, keepin on

    • WeiQiang

      Can we have an option for a masseur?

      • SomeGuy

        Yes, you can. And the stock dome lights will be replaced with bright energy efficient LEDs, which will subsequently be outfitted with expensive mood-lighting dimmer upgrade that reduce the brightness and energy efficiency of the dome lights.

        • nom de guerre

          Will said LEDs be LEED Certified? I also have some concerns that 40 cabs might not result in the minimum quota of “75 new jobs” for Arlington.

          • SomeGuy

            Good question. And how often will the iPads and massage tables be sanitized?

          • WeiQiang

            Thought of that … the plan is to use the seats from ArlCo library chairs, which have been pre-sanitized according to the Library System’s schedule. The company re-purposing the seat bottoms is moving from New Jersey and, indeed, is bringing 75 new jobs.

            I love those moodlighting LEDs!

          • nom de guerre

            Musco Dark Sky LEDs?

          • WeiQiang

            brilliant dual-use idea … I’ll submit a PEG to retrofit the mood function on ARLCO ONE. Regrettably, AC1 is away at an overseas seaside resort on Holmes Run, so the mod will have to wait.

            side note: I understand that Metro installed Musco Dark Sky LEDs in the Rosslyn station a year ago. The lighting is believed to cause nausea in adolescents.

  • drax


    derogatory. A person who has risen suddenly to wealth or high position, esp. one who behaves arrogantly

    Perhaps you meant “startup” Scott?

    • Claire

      a person who has suddenly risen to a higher economic status but has not gained social acceptance of others in that class

      This is really important?

      • drax

        You took the time to post about it too, Claire, so you tell me.

        • Claire

          I posted about your post, yes that is true.

  • Quoth the Raven

    Who’s going to pay for the gallons of anti-bacterial you’re going to need after you touch one of those iPad screens?

  • Your Mom

    This green crap is out of control. There will probably be more pollution created as a result of powering the charging stations required for these vehicles. This is so f-ing stupid. Arlington gets douchyer by the minute.

    • WeiQiang

      green crap. please compost your comments.

    • Josh S

      What makes you think this?

    • Billy

      Your Mom,, what you’ve just written… Is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever read. At no point, in your rambling, incoherent response, were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this comment section is now dumber for having read to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

      • drax

        Your Mom is deducted one full FREDTERP, which is awarded to you.

        • WeiQiang

          a full FREDTERP? … harsh, brah

          • drax

            You earn your stripes in my classroom. I don’t just give them away.

      • Your Mom

        U honestly think that this cab is green? Bet there is more pollution created at the power plant supplying power for this stupid car than the car saves on emissions. Not to mention, what’s the acquisition cost on these power stations to get the infrastructure in place? What’s the impact to the power grid when we get a large number of charging places in place? Whose going to pick up the tab on the loss in revenue on this venture when it fails? My opinion is what it is.

        • Leaves

          Well, solar, wind, and hydro power produce no pollution and create electricity. Maybe this will be the first step to get rid of dirty coal plants.
          I like your scientific data to backup your argument though Your Mom. “Bet there is more pollution created at the power plant…” That’s some good debating right there champ.

        • drax

          So actually back up your opinion with some facts, Your Mom. It shouldn’t be that hard. You “bet” isn’t enough.

          • Interior Dept

            She’s right. Do some research.

    • SomeGuy

      I’m not sure what the preferred spelling of “douchyer” is, but I wouldn’t choose yours. Since there’s no authority on this word, I think this is fodder for an ArlNow poll.

      Who’s with me on “douchier?”

      • Quoth the Raven

        Definitely douchier. No “y”.

      • drax

        I think in French, “douchier” would mean “a person who administers a douche.”

        • SomeGuy

          What would you recommend?

        • speonjosh

          DRAX!! With the knee-slapper!! That’s some literal LOL right there.

      • WeiQiang

        douchy [or ‘douchie’ if you want a feminine form] … douchier … douchiest.

        I’m in.

      • sunflower

        me and urban dictionary…

      • Your Mom

        Ya I wrestled with it and went with the y.

      • Your Mom

        Hey Leaves, where is all your data that says it is greener? And don’t pull some from some green propaganda website and throw it in my face. There is no unbiased data that exists to prove that the green initiatives you are listing are more environmentally friendly. Wind doesn’t produce enough power to offset the acquisition cost; it’s not a practical solution. Hydro is bad for the environment. Fish can’t spawn in native environments. And solar, come on, I’m sure the chemicals used to produce them are environmentally friendly. How and where do u dispose of a solar panel in a safe manner once one reaches the end of its life cycle. Green marketing of products isn’t as green as it is being received. Without more research we could be making things worse. Now go ride your bike to work, you’re going to be late.

        • drax

          “There is no unbiased data that exists to prove that the green initiatives you are listing are more environmentally friendly.”

          Oh, cut it out already. No more poisoning the well.

          If YOU think there’s data that says it is NOT green, post it.

          If you have no data, STFU already.

          • Regis

            Do you have data?

          • Your Mom

            Drax, where is your data? Per the sticker on the box of a car called the Leaf, it’s supposed to use 34kwh/100 miles. Because of power generating inefficiencies (genarically speaking) it takes about 100kwh at a power plant to get 34kwh in the Leaf (.07 tons co2/100miles). A gas car at 20 miles/gal produces .043 tons co2/100mi according to the EPA.gov website. At best a gas car is no worse for the environment than an electric car and one for one an electric car is worse. And as far as solar panels go, refer to this article:


            Point is a lot of this green technolgy isn’t green and I’m done buying the stories about it.

          • esmith69

            I’m not going to argue the environmental side of things because thousands of scientists have already disproven your claims. I’m too lazy to look it up online.

            I will say though that sunlight, wind, and river currents are all FREE as well as being unlimited. Most anti-green types such as yourself also seem to be intent on having governments/companies not spend much money. I’m surprised that the fact that the source of energy for renewables is completely FREE doesn’t appeal to you more.

          • Your Mom

            Esmitj69 look past the issue a few layers. It’s not free. The infrastructure and acquisition costs to get these technologies in place isn’t cost effective. I’m not convinced global warming is an issue either Jenn. Drill baby drill. Out.

          • jenn

            there’s also no such thing as global warming. and also, global warming is over. additionally, binders full of women! the end.

  • nom de guerre

    Will the cab drivers wear helmets? Will they offer complimentary helmets to the passengers? And if so, how often will they disinfect the helmets?

    • drax

      No, but they might wear seatbelts.


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