Shocking and revolting: an unjust attack on Houston’s all-electric jitney

In 2010 Houston got its first all-electric jitney service, REV Eco-Shuttle. REV may be the only all-electric jitney service in the entire USA. However, just this past week, a revision to the city’s jitney ordinance threatens its continued operation.

Specifically, the revision increases the minimum seating capacity to operate a legal jitney from four passengers to nine. I have yet to learn of the official rationale behind this amendment, nor who is sponsoring it. I can think of no good reasons for this law to pass, and plenty of bad ones.

It has been suggested that the taxi lobby is behind this. Indeed, REV undercuts (by a dollar) the city-regulated $6 fare for taxis within downtown. However, unless I grossly misunderstand the current state of affairs, taxi drivers make far more money off of trips to and from the airports, and to and from bars after last call (REV ceases operation nightly at 2am Thursday through Saturday, and 10pm the other four nights of the week). It does not make sense for a taxi driver to concentrate strictly on trips within downtown when there are more lucrative opportunities available. There is also a segment of the population that will prefer to ride a real taxi over REV, no matter what. I personally fail to see how more choices are a bad thing.

Whatever the motivation, this absolutely, positively, galactically stupid amendment to the city’s jitney laws is unneeded and devoid of merit. REV has posted information on their website, linked above, on how to contact City Council members. Please, let them know this proposed law is a non-solution to a non-problem.