Thursday, September 9, 2010
New shuttle service offers rides in Dallas and Arlington – sometimes for free
You may have seen these eco-friendly cars around the Arts District or Uptown.
A new eco-friendly shuttle service is jumping around parts of Dallas and Arlington. Called E.F.R.O.G.S., which stands for Eco-Friendly Rides on Green Shuttles, the company is currently operating three “global electric motorcars,” which look like extended golf carts.
But golf carts they are not, says co-owner Gary Haag. The vehicles scuttling around DFW are allowed on roads marked at 40 mph and under, and they can go about 27 mph at top speed. (For reference, a standard golf cart goes 17 mph, Haag says.) The cars are battery-operated and hold up to 6 passengers.
“We want to be green, we want to be something people like, and our goal is to fill a niche of what cabs and limos don't do,” Haag says.
Haag and his crew, which includes several co-owners, will use the vehicles in two places: in Arlington for special events at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and at Cowboys Stadium; and in Dallas roughly from Mockingbird Lane south to downtown Dallas (and spanning east and west to include Uptown, downtown, Knox/Henderson, Deep Ellum, and the Design District).
The cars in Arlington will charge a $5 minimum for rides. The city has an ordinance in place for these vehicles (attached PDF; see Article X) – which are largely non-existent in the DFW area. “People didn't know about them. But we are in the land of SUVs,” he said. “The reason [Arlington] has the ordinance is because they'd seen other cities who had them, like Washington and St. Louis. It was just lucky for us.” The company had to pay Arlington $350 per vehicle, plus fees for background checks, defensive driving for vehicle drivers, and other small costs.
Haag hopes to have a small fleet of 15 vehicles by Super Bowl time.
In Dallas, rides with E.F.R.O.G.S. are free, though the drivers accept tips. They aren't allowed to charge because Dallas doesn't have an ordinance in place to govern cars like the global electric motorcars. Instead, E.F.R.O.G.S. hopes to make revenue from advertising. Haag said the company will have TVs installed in the headrests for advertising purposes, plus signs on the back of the vehicle.
Haag developed the idea for E.F.R.O.G.S. after seeing One Arts Plaza's “art cart.” He also co-owns a local valet company called Professional Parking Solutions, and said he used his 10+ years in the business to help launch E.F.R.O.G.S.
He hopes that the shuttle isn't abused by people who've had too much to drink. “We don't want to be the drunk driver option,” Haag says. “We're there, but we don't want 10 people thinking they can pile into our cart and bring their drinks with them.”
The company currently operates Wednesdays through Saturdays, 5:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. However, Haag says they get calls seven days a week and won't be able to operate more frequently until they acquire more vehicles. “I hope people will be willing to grow with us,” he said.