EcoCabs ready to roll in Toronto

Starting May 1, there will be a new way to get around the downtown core of Toronto. A new transportation service – a hybrid of a rickshaw and a taxi – called the EcoCab will be available. And the best part about the EcoCab? It’s free to riders. Not to mention environmentally friendly.

GO Mobile Media has announced the release of 28 EcoCab’s in Toronto, which will be free to all riders thanks to corporate sponsorship for all of the EcoCab’s and the program.

GO Mobile Media announced that Lipton Green Tea has signed on as the premier sponsor of the program and will participate in the program for its entirety, which will run from May to September. All other sponsors will be announced as the EcoCab’s are unveiled and as their logos are seen on the side of the cabs.

William Kozma, the president of Go Mobile Media, said the main interest in bringing the cabs to Toronto was because they wanted to do some advertising that was more than one dimensional and something that gave back to the community.

“To support a cause like the environment as well as with the city’s mandate to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and offer free service to consumers we thought it was a win-win scenario,” Kozma said.

Trained drivers who must have a valid Ontario driver’s license and also complete a weeklong training course will operate the EcoCab’s.

“We put them through a training program. We go through how to deal with passengers, what areas do we service and the proper way to ride the vehicle,” Kozma said.

The EcoCab’s will be generally downtown based with a range of up to six to eight blocks per ride. The cabs can travel at speeds up to 12 kilometres per hour, so they will be restricted to bike lanes and to streets that do not always have fast and heavy traffic flow.

“We are able to go down some of the side streets and the smaller streets that the city cabs, or obviously the bus service doesn’t go down,” Kozma said.

The EcoCab’s will be found throughout the city for the duration of the summer, often times outside of events, such as after a Blue Jays game or in the entertainment district on a Friday night. But anyone can access the cabs to get from one point to another – whether it is from the Eaton Centre to Union Station or going to a restaurant after a show.

“It is a short shuttle solution,” Kozma said. “We are going six to 12 blocks, picking people up at one place and dropping them at another.”

Kozma said that the company does plan to expand on the number of EcoCab’s, after the company get can a fair gauge on the response from the consumer as well as the brand and the city.

The biggest surprise – and what people have a problem accepting – is the fact that the EcoCab is a free service, but the corporate sponsors will be covering the costs.

“As strange as it sounds people are sceptical of anything that is free and EcoCab is free,” Kozma said. “There are no strings attached, we are not asking for donations and it is funded by corporate sponsors.”

Some people may still doubt that the EcoCab will continue to be free, but Kozma is firm in his commitment that the EcoCab will remain free.

“This is not a program that we are putting out there so people really fall in love with these things and then do an end run where now we’ve got you hooked on it and are going to charge you for it,” Kozma stressed. “EcoCab is free and that is the premise. If we can’t sustain the corporate sponsorship element to keep EcoCab free then we probably wont have EcoCab.”

EcoCab’s don’t have a number to call to request one, but they work under the same idea of hailing a taxi or a rickshaw, just step onto the street and flag one down.

“You just see them. They are very, very noticeable and they are all over the place,” Kozma added. “If you see one and its empty they will scoop you up and take you where you need to go.