The Portland City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to approve an application for a new, mostly electric taxi company.
EcoCab will start off with 15 electric cars and non-electric wheelchair accessible vans in its Portland fleet, but its newly approved application will allow the company to add as many as 51 vehicles over time. EcoCab owner Ron Knori says he hopes that most of his growing fleet will consist of Tesla Model S sedans.
Portland Commissioner Amanda Fritz told Knori she welcomes EcoCab as a regulated taxi company, and warned such ride service companies as Lyft and Uber against making any assumptions that they will be allowed to operate in the city without regulatory mechanism in place.
“I appreciate that (EcoCab) is moving towards the employee-based model rather than the contractor,” said Fritz.
She went on to voice her approval for the company’s plan to pay drivers a $10 per hour base wage in addition to commission. EcoCab will also offer paid sick and vacation time to its employees.
A study by ECONorthwest shows that Portland has 7.5 taxis per 10,000 residents — fewer than other similarly-sized cities. According to the study, Portland would need to add 617 cab permits in order to meet the median number found in other cities it surveyed.
The study also finds that Portland cabs don’t show up for 16 percent of scheduled pick-ups during peak hours, and more than 20 percent of calls placed to taxi companies go unanswered or callers are told that cabs are unavailable.