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EcoCab Comes to Toronto

Posted by Roger Cullman / April 21, 2008

EcoCabs coming to TorontoEcoCabs are coming to Toronto.

A day after the Earth Day rally at Yonge-Dundas Square, a series of cute, environmentally friendly three-wheeled vehicles touched down there for the first time.

The EcoCab runs primarily on a trained driver's pedal-power, but is supported by a rechargeable electric battery. So it can reach speeds of up to 12 km per hour on city streets.

GO Mobile Media president Will Kozma was on hand to help launch the vehicles today. He said that the EcoCabs will help Toronto residents and tourists by offering free rides during summer street festivals and special events.

"Each vehicle costs about $13,000," says Kozma, who says the cabs are supported by corporate advertising.

"Lipton has signed a five-month contract with GO Mobile Media, and will offer a free Lipton green tea drink for passengers when it hits the city's downtown streets starting May 1."

EcoCabs in Yonge-Dundas SquareThere are 28 EcoCabs in the fleet, which will offer residents and tourists short-distance, emission-free transportation between office buildings, transit stations, shopping areas, restaurants and entertainment attractions.

With headlights, rear lights, side-mirrors and an enclosed shell, the vehicles exceed road safety standards. They will ride in the right-most lane and in bike lanes, where the average speed of traffic is 6 km per hour, said Kozma.

I took a brief ride in an EcoCab, which can accommodate two adult passengers comfortably, and was impressed with its smooth ride and quick acceleration.

It's about time Toronto caught up with major European cities and New York, where they are easily able to navigate through congested city streets. Look for this program to come to Vancouver and Montreal next.

Photos by Roger Cullman.



Sandy Kemsley / April 21, 2008 at 04:13 pm
Is the cost comparable to a regular taxi, or is it a much higher "novelty fare" like the rickshaws? A key to making these work is pricing them competitively with the regular taxis.
Hwan / April 21, 2008 at 04:15 pm
Yeah but are those tires streetcar-rail-groove-proof? They appear just small enough to fall in...
ronnie b. / April 21, 2008 at 04:24 pm
"They will ride in the right-most lane and in bike lanes..."//
That's not cool. These things are so wide that they'll take up the entire bike lane, making passing even more dangerous. Also, I assume they'll be picking up/dropping off in bike lanes, too, which is no better than a regular taxi doing the same. Stay outta the bike lanes!
Adam / April 21, 2008 at 04:44 pm
I'm all for free rides, but good lord that thing is hideous. Why does every square surface of them have to be covered in advertising?
james a / April 21, 2008 at 04:57 pm
Adam, you answered your own question. The "hideous advertising" is what pays for it to be free.

I got a chance to check them out in Dundas Square this morning.. IMO they look pretty sharp!
x_the_x / April 21, 2008 at 05:01 pm
Let me get this straight, Adam: you don't want to pay for the ride and you object to someone else paying it for you? What sort of solution do you propose?
Darlene / April 21, 2008 at 05:33 pm
This is pretty cool. Little high tech tuk-tuk/coco taxis.

I think the drivers should wear helmets though, for when they get trampled by HUmmers.
Spike / April 21, 2008 at 06:02 pm
I think this is an awesome idea, like it said its not taking away from cabbies, they're for short runs and its polution free. Now we just need to realize that gas powered vehicles in general are outdated and work on that..
Laurence / April 21, 2008 at 06:12 pm
I find it strange that these vehicles, going at only "12 km per hour" is approved for use on our roads, yet the ZENN Car is still prevented from entering the Ontario market because its top speed of 50km is "too slow".
A.R. / April 21, 2008 at 06:25 pm
These are meant to be rolling advertisements.
matt / April 21, 2008 at 06:42 pm
this is really nice...!
chephy / April 21, 2008 at 06:44 pm
Stay out of bike lanes? Why should that be? Legally these things are bicycles and are allowed to be in bike lanes. Demanding that they don't use bike lanes is no better than demanding that bicycles don't use roads because "roads are for cars" and "bikes are slow and dangerous to pass". Here is a tip for you, whether you're on a bike or in a car: if passing would be dangerous - gee, maybe don't frigging pass just then, eh?
A.R. / April 21, 2008 at 07:21 pm
This is just the greenwashing of advertising vehicles. I say get them off the road entirely, not just the bike lanes.
Rick / April 21, 2008 at 08:53 pm
So now that there's a free, easy, environmentally friendly option for getting around the city people find a way to complain about the advertising and taking up bike lane space.

What is that you want exactly? Free, unobstrusive transportation around the city without any ads? You have that... it's called "walking."

Any other form of transportation is going to have flaws. I'll deal with some ads if it means it's free and doesn't pollute.
Randy / April 21, 2008 at 09:50 pm
Lemme get this straight: $13,000 for a plastic-encased bicycle with a motor that can achieve warp speed of 12 clicks per hour?! What is the incentive? I can go a helluva lot faster than that on my bicycle.

"They will ride in the right-most lane and in bike lanes, where the average speed of traffic is 6 km per hour, said Kozma." Are you serious? I loathe rollerbladers in bike lanes as it is! If I see one of these rolling pieces of shit hogging the bike lane I happen to be riding in, I'll hoof the friggin' thing.

Don't get me wrong, I am all for the environment, which is one reason why I don't want a car. But at THIRTEEN GRAND, is this glorified rickshaw worth it? I'll bet the dangerous emissions that came off the molds when they manufactured the plasic used for the thing created more environmental damage that it is worth.
chephy / April 21, 2008 at 10:30 pm
Wow, there are some serious road ragers here. Actually, rollerbladers can make a pretty convincing case that their form of transportation qualifies as a bicycle under the legal definition of bicycle. Loathing someone for trying to get around on a pollution-free transportation alternative, just like you? Puh-lease...

Why do I have such a strong deja vu when reading all this? "If I see a cyclist in my lane, I'll be sure to run him off the road!" Those people are full of self-righteousness too...

BTW, I'm not in any way associated with ecocab. But I already pity their poor drivers...
Raoul / April 22, 2008 at 09:06 am
"Rollerbladers can make a pretty convincing case that their form of transportation qualifies as a bicycle under the legal definition of bicycle."

I don't know if this is true, but to many cyclists, rollerbladers and their ilk (skateboarders, dude!) are a pain in the ass. Why? First, many bladers insist on going in the opposite direction to a bike lane, so when cyclists try to navigate, there's this (often shirtless) a-hole barreling at them. Second, I woundn't teach my child to learn to rollerblade in a bike lane, so why do so many newbie bladers insist on learning how to blade in bike lanes instead of in much safer closed parking lots, laneways, or quiet side streets? Third, I know bladers need to use their arms to propel themselves, but WTF!? Why do so many whip around like they're strapped to a crucifix, arms splayed out where it makes them almost impossible to pass?

Sorry chephy, I will never buy the argument that rollerbladers have the same rights to bike lanes as cyclists do.
Dave / April 22, 2008 at 10:01 am
Geez, it's an attempt to make a difference. Someone, probably a lot of people, put time and money into this. Let's try it and fix the problems that show up, or maybe abandon it as a worthwhile experiment if that's not possible. A knee-jerk reaction against a new approach doesn't get us any closer to a livable city.
Laura / April 22, 2008 at 12:09 pm
Does it really only go 12km an hour? That doesn't seem right, especially given its battery...
Olaf / April 22, 2008 at 12:47 pm
The biggest joke is that today's 24 freebie paper says these EcoCabs "far exceed" safety standards. Are they joking? Let's see this thing rear-ended by a bus, and watch who wins. Also, does the so-called EcoCab mean there won't be anymore rickshaws on Toronto's streets?
Ben / April 22, 2008 at 02:41 pm
Olaf, you may be right about the 'shaws, but I would hope they would take some real (polluting) cabs off the street.
Roger / April 22, 2008 at 04:42 pm
@ Olaf: It was Kozma of GO Mobile Media that said the EcoCab "far exceeds" safety standards. The 24 Hours newspaper in Toronto just published his comments. The safety standards he was likely talking about refers to bicycles and other rickshaws, which often don't have all the safety gear that the EcoCabs have. This includes "headlights, rear lights, side-mirrors and an enclosed shell," which I mentioned in my story as well.

The older-style rickshaws will still run around on our city's streets. There's enough room for both in our city. Competition will encourage them to come up with better service, a different clientele or a new business plan.
Roger / April 22, 2008 at 04:56 pm
There's a couple more articles on it by <a href=""; target="_blank">The Toronto Sun</a> and <a href=""; target="_blank">The Globe and Mail</a> if you'd like to read a little more. And The Toronto Star has a short multimedia spot with <a href=""; target="_blank">their story</a>. YMMV.
Hans Lucas / April 23, 2008 at 11:41 am
People of Toronto suck - here come the complaints again. The reason why there is nothing progressive in this city is because people don't like change and complain about anything new. eco-cabs case in point.

I can't belive that anyone would have a problem with a free environmentally friendly ride. Oh, it's too slow, too many ads, it'll prevent me from passing it on my stupid bike.

Get over your selfish needs people! This is a great idea - it's not gonna cost you a dime and it will make the city that much cleaner.
SCREWFACE / April 24, 2008 at 12:55 am
@Hans Lucas

Welcome to Toronto, The Screwface Capital
Roger / April 24, 2008 at 08:51 am
Toronto Councillor Howard Moscoe, who chairs the licensing and standards committee, <a href=""; target="_blank">is now opposing the introduction</a> of the EcoCabs.
Adam / April 24, 2008 at 04:57 pm
I never said anything about the ads making it atrocious. The design of the vehicle itself is hideous; The ads only compound the problem.

Make it $0.25 a ride and invest in a well designed vehicle beforehand.
roger / April 24, 2008 at 05:02 pm
Perhaps you need to see it in person to appreciate the design. I think it looks kind of striking, myself. Perhaps racing stripes would enhance the look. I'd say the ads actually detract from the vehicle's sleek lines.
Randy / April 25, 2008 at 11:11 am
Perhaps the real solution is to introduce actual cars powered by pedal/electric instead of having all these Goddamned people driving around downtown BY THEMSELVES in SUVs? Who the f needs an SUV or a Hummer?

Selfish people!
Wendy / May 10, 2008 at 01:30 am
I took a great ride in the Club district tonight in downtown Toronto... what a great new addition to Toronto's image ! I love it.. and it's FREE .. amazing! no more problems of those too cheap regular Cabbies owners turning us down to bring us short distances to the subway.. I just jump into a Eco Cab! .. yaaah.. Toronto.. good for You !!
Nicolas Bello / May 14, 2008 at 02:53 pm
Took one today. Very friendly driver (Jeff). The ride was smooth and the thing had drivers/pedestrians all turning their heads to take a look. The free can of ice tea was a nice bonus.
FlashMasterLex / May 15, 2008 at 02:40 pm
I think they're great and I want my own BUT...can they be winterized? Snow tires and enclosed? There are lots of alternative vehicles now but they become useless in snow. That is the true Canadian test. Perhaps a free hot chocolate?
See? / May 16, 2008 at 03:32 pm
So HOWARD MOSCOE opposes these Eco-cabs?

Word to the unwise, Howard Moscoe has been trying for 20 years to LICENSE ALL BICYCLE RIDERS. It won't happen, it's a terrible idea nad a tremendous waste of money to even ask, much less implement.

Howard is diametrically opposed to any & all advancement of human powered vehicles, along with Cesar Palacios. They consistently vote against any and all initiatives that do not promote automobiles --to the exclusion-- of any other form of transportation, including mass transit & pedestrian traffic.
Ian Maharaj / May 19, 2008 at 09:42 am
These is going to be a festival on the streets of Toronto in June 2008. The Illuminado Festival which is a cultural festival, bringing together all sections of the economy.We the members of the Satya Jyoti Cultural Organisation was aked to put on a display of our culture. We will need something to pull our 2 small floats. I am hoping we can get 2 of the Ecocabs to pull the floats. It's not heavy. It's on June 14. 2008. @ 6.00Pm To 7.30 PM @ Harbour Front. It will be a great way to advertise your Companies & show how you give back to the communities that support you. Please let me know if this is possible. If Yes I will really appreciate.
Thanks ...
Ian Maharaj. 647-285-2799(Cell)Anytime
Supporter / May 19, 2008 at 09:48 am
This request is the best way for companies to show how they give back to the people.
I think it's a no brainer...Lipton or whoever else advertising should jump on this request...Call the person & make arrangements.
sandy / May 19, 2008 at 09:51 am
I agree. I will support who ever supports the community.
Leo / June 8, 2008 at 04:47 am
Sounds nice, but they're moved by electrical energy, so they are not so "eco"
Chris Orbz / June 8, 2008 at 06:55 am
Hmmmm.... How come when I click through to the site, it sends me to instead, whose ad trucks are the absolute worst use of a vehicle in the entire city? Gross.I did enjoy the ride(/drink) when I took one, but seriously - mixed messages! Mixed messages!
Roger / June 8, 2008 at 12:43 pm
Go Mobile Media own the Eco Cabs. They previously did the ad trucks. Looks like they're doing both now. Perhaps they'll give up their ad trucks for Eco Cabs only. Perhaps if enough people complained to them about the trucks, they'll consider abandoning them altogether.To their credit, their trucks run on biodiesel fuel. There's more info on their Environment link on the right side of their website.
Flushmonster / June 11, 2008 at 12:12 pm
I'm trying to become a driver now the pay is really good cause its paid through the advertising. I see no reason why this is a bad idea. We need different things in toronto. And are you saying a 60 year old woman can walk faster than 12km/h .

The motors are powered by biking. So yeah it is eco friendly.
Carl / July 9, 2008 at 08:24 am
I really like the concept when I saw that when I was in Toronto. I did not get a chance to ride in one and don't know what the cost is for the ride
sean replying to a comment from Hwan / March 6, 2013 at 10:52 am
I would imagine being a three wheeled device it will not suffer from tipping over from streetcar rails.
Tara / May 11, 2013 at 05:50 pm
Best vehicle ever. Everyone dissing them is a fascist.
used motorhomes / March 28, 2014 at 09:55 pm
This design is spectacular! You certainly know how to
keep a reader amused. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well,
almost...HaHa!) Wonderful job. I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.
Too cool!
Zane / April 15, 2015 at 04:10 pm
I was wondering if a consumer version of the vehicle is available.
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