When taxi driver Habtamu Tarekegn decided to “go green” by buying an electric car, he was excited about the potential for economic independence at a time when D.C. cabbies are struggling to compete with Uber.
After years of renting older taxis from large fleets, Tarekegn welcomed the opportunity to finally obtain his own license, or H tag. The District’s Department of For-Hire Vehicles (DFHV) issues new tags in only a handful of circumstances — including the purchase of a new, 100 percent electric vehicle.
There also were financial incentives: the District had a limited number of $10,000 grants to help cabbies like Tarekegn cover the cost of a new car. Additionally, he would eliminate the cost of gasoline.
Now, however, with D.C.’s electric taxicab program in its second year, Tarekegn is among a group of 120 drivers who say they regret going green.