Not Dead Yet: Green Cab Gets Its Taxis Back From the Bank

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Peter Mumford
Green Cab Taxi, which seemed on the point of collapse in April, is still hanging on. In a meeting last month with King County, Green Cab representatives revealed that they had gotten back seven Toyota Priuses that had been repossessed by the bank. "It was a very happy moment," says Barb DeLauter, the county's manager of recording and licensing. And whereas the company laid off its general manager in the spring, it has now hired a new one, according to DeLauter: a self-described turn-around specialist named Mark Schofield who has worked in various industries, though not before in the taxi business. He came to the meeting with the county.

It's not clear why Green Cab's fortunes have improved; the company may have gotten new investors, as it was seeking in the spring. Schofield declines to answer questions, referring calls to Green Cab board chair Desie Belete, who did not return messages. In any case, it doesn't seem that the company is out of the woods yet.

DeLauter says the concern, which received 50 county licenses last year to set up a new eco- and labor-friendly business model, is not yet profitable. Craig Leisy, manager of Seattle's Consumer Affairs Unit, which handles records for city and county taxis, says that he believes a number of Green Cab members spend most of their time driving for other companies. At least, he says, they were wearing other companies' ID tags when they showed up at his office recently to renew their Green Cab licenses. Although his office lists 30 active Green Cab licenses--up from 18 in the spring--he says he has seen very few of the actual cabs on the road.

Green Cab's foray into the taxi business has been hampered by a number of factors, including its required investment in pricey, energy-efficient hybrid cars, a labor model doesn't appeal to some taxi drivers and a recession that has hit everybody in the industry. "I don't think anybody's doing well right now," Leisy says.

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