Another Problem for Green Cab: the Prius

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Chuck Cruise, chief doorman for the Seattle Hilton, isn't surprised to hear that Green Cab Taxi is on the skids. He called me after reading my story in this week's issue about the company, which was the bitter envy of the taxi world when it received a bunch of valuable licenses from King County. The story is partly one of social engineering gone awry. The labor-friendly business model that the county insisted upon isn't working. Another thing that's surely not working, according to Cruise: the county's requirement that the company use electric-hybrids.

Cruise has experience with hybrids, not through Green Cab, which can only pick up passengers outside city limits, but through a few other Seattle taxi drivers who that have bought Toyota Priuses. The problem is that the trunks are so small that you can't fit in more than three bags. He gets two hotel guests with two bags a piece who are headed for a long trip, like a cruise, and he's out of luck. "These guys pull up in a hybrid and I have to say I can't use you," Cruise says. "It's a pain in the butt, those cabs."

Cruise also mentions that there's no telling how long or how well these Priuses will hold up - unlike the Ford Crown Victorias that are the typical taxi workhorses. For more on that, see our cover story on the green car's darker hues.

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