Electric-shuttle entrepreneur Erik Ibarra is worried about a new draft ordinance— due to be discussed by a city transportation committee on Tuesday and voted on by city council later this month — that he says raises the required minimum capacity for jitneys from 4 to 9 passengers. (The new provision appears to have been included at the request of taxi companies.) The founder of Rev Eco-Shuttle tells Swamplot officers of the city’s Administration and Regulatory Affairs department have told him the two 6-seater emissions-free carts his company currently uses to shuttle passengers around Washington Ave and the Downtown and Midtown areas at $5 a pop would be grandfathered under the new ordinance, but that any additional vehicles of the same design would be ineligible.
The department’s plan appears to be to regulate any new shuttles (along with pedicabs) under a separate set of rules for low-speed vehicles, but Ibarra says a draft of those rules is nowhere in sight, and he’d like to be able to expand his current business.
Ibarra had been encouraging the city to revise the jitney ordinance because of the hassles he experienced trying first to identify and then to comply with the existing rules. The entrepreneur famously spent 2 1/2 years trying to get the city of Houston to give him some kind of permit for his 2 all-electric vehicles, collecting plenty of citations from city officers along the way. His 2 carts finally received permits in December. Ibarra tells Swamplot both were actually revoked by the city in May, but he expects to receive new jitney permits within a few days.
- Previously on Swamplot: The Little Downtown Electric Shuttle Service Earns a Badge, REV Houston Downtown Shuttle: No Fare, No Emissions, Just Tips and Tickets, REV Houston: Street Illegal, Tips Only: Downtown-to-Midtown Zero-Emission Shuttle
Photo: Rev Eco-Shuttle