Electric Cars & Pedicabs: New 'Low Speed Shuttle' Ordinance Goes Before City Committee Thursday

After months of waiting and hoping and wishing, Erik Ibarra, the founder of REV Eco-Shuttle, may have finally got what he's wanted. 

Yesterday on Twitter, he announced that he had received good news, that the Regulatory Affairs department for the City of Houston had come up with a revised ordinance that may allow his company, along with pedicabs in the Houston area, to remain a player in the cities' transportation market. That was the first step in a three-part process.

Step two comes Thursday, when the new ordinance goes before the Development and Regulatory Affairs committee for a vote. If the proposed ordinance, which would create a new classification of vehicle for hire, passes, it would then move on to step three, which would mean a vote by City Council.

"If it passes [on Thursday], it's a step in the right direction," Ibarra said. "If not, it's probably the end for us."

Back in July when there was discussion of passing the Jitney Ordinance, Ibarra's company looked vulnerable and on the verge of being voted off the streets. According to Ibarra, the city has invested a lot of time in coming up with this new ordinance for the new classification of vehicle. The "Low Speed Shuttle" ordinance applies to vehicles that will not be allowed to exceed 25 mph and can seat anywhere from four to eight people. Ibarra's vehicles meet both standards. 

Christopher Newport, a public information officer for the City of Houston, acknowledged the work the DRA has put into trying to be creative and flexible to allow company's like Erik's to operate, as well as open up the possibility for new transportation companies to open in the future. 

If the new ordinance passes, Ibarra sees this not only as his chance to survive, but hopefully the development he needs to be able to grow the company. He currently operates only two emissions-free vehicles -- they look like stretched golf carts -- but hopes to add another one or two in the following months.

The meeting for the vote will be held tomorrow (Thursday) at City Hall in the Council Chambers at 10 a.m.

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