REV Houston Downtown Shuttle: No Fare, No Emissions, Just Tips and Tickets

How’s business going for that new emission-free all-electric text-us-and-we’ll-pick-you-up sorta-free Downtown shuttle service?

A little more than a year into it, REV Houston’s 3 Chrysler GEM vehicles are proving quite popular with . . . city investigators!

City officers have ticketed Rev Houston drivers at least 15 times this year, and plenty more last year. The citations, which average $150 to $200, are for offenses such as “no taxicab permit” and “no taxicab driver’s license.”

“One of the offenses is ‘no fire extinguisher,’ ” Ibarra said. “Our vehicles don’t have a single drop of combustible liquid, but the city feels we need to have a fire extinguisher. ‘No taxi meter’ is another one. We don’t charge a fare, so why should we have a taxi meter?”

Tina Paez, the city’s deputy director of administration and regulatory affairs, said Ibarra’s vehicles have been cited as taxis because they take passengers.

“If they charge a fare or accept a gratuity, they are a vehicle for hire,” she said. “Even though they don’t technically charge, they come under the ordinance.”

Video: Steven Oster, Houston Chronicle

8 Comment

  • Ya think Metro and the Taxi lobby is behind this?

  • If they don’t “technically” charge (a fare), then how do they “technically” come under the ordinance (pertaining to fare-charging vehicles)?

  • Because it’s implicit that the passengers pay for the trip. It really doesn’t matter who is behind them getting ticketed, the fact of the matter is that if passengers are paying the driver then they are a vehicle for hire and we have rules covering vehicles for hire. As far as the fire extinguisher thing is concerned why on earth does Ibarra seem to assume that because there is no gas in his cars they are impossible to ignite. If he has any confusions about this I would invite him to let HFD borrow one for a hour or so and see if they can get it to catch fire.

  • One of the things that each of these districts need badly is an affordable method of transportation from one venue to another, as well as from one of the areas to each other. Since Metreaux did away with the trolley cars years ago (which would have worked wonderfully, but it isn’t whirled class enough like the phenominally much more expensive at grade dangertrain), these eco-friendly shuttles (for lack of a better term) fit the bill nicely. The fact that the private sector has taken it upon itself to come up with this functional idea and put it into operation cannot be promoted by the social engineers who must have control over every facet of human life on this planet. We are not intelligent enough on our own to know what is good for us, we NEED the government to tell us how to live. So, let’s penalize any successful private enterprise that we currently have no control over. After all, we are all about revenue generation from that evil private sector!

  • Well if the cart catches fire, then just GET OUT, it doesn’t have DOORS. I’m sure they have no problem buying fire extinguishers. The city will find every way to nit pick these guys. Bottom line is that the city wants to crush these little guys and satisfy the wishes of their taxi & bus cash cows. Rev Houston is too good to be true and headed in the same direction as the Metro Trolleys & Houston electric street cars.

  • Ok then, let the electric cars operate without any of the oversights or inspections but if you are going to do that then you need to level the playing field, do the same for all taxis. Or do you feel that inspections and regulation of gasoline powered taxis is somehow more rational than inspections and regulation of electric taxis?

  • The problem is that the city taxi ordinance is outdated and needs to be updated to include the new class of vehicles (like the GEM) known as LSV’s or Low Speed Vehicles. The Fed’s already make a distinction between golf carts, LSV’s, and motor vehicles. The State of Texas also has enacted rules regarding LSV’s. The Houston Taxi ordinance needs to be brought up to date by creating a new class of vehicle with new regulations.

    There are lots of places in Houston where these types of vehicles would be VERY helpful for the gereral public.

    There are LOTS and LOTS of trips that are too far to walk on a hot day, but it’s overkill to use a taxi and ride in a minivan or Ford Grand Marquis.

    Someone call Mayor White’s green czar.

  • They offer a nice service. Got a chance to ride them a couple times from one corner of Downtown to the other. Tipped him a buck and went on my way.

    These are essentially operating the same way as the bicycle pedi-cabs/rickshaws do in the evenings around The Ballpark and Toyota Center shuttling fans to and from the stadium doors and to their cars for nothign more than a tip. They dont have seatbelts, no fire extinguishers, nor fare meters. They city expects me to walk in this heat or wait under the nice bus stand awnings they built around Downtown instead of hailing one of these guys which are quite convenient.