At 9:30 this morning, I hopped in a white Mercedes 300D with Charlie Herrick, co-owner of Green Cab VT, a new eco-conscious car service for the Burlington area. The cab company started up a few weeks ago and, according to Herrick, has already provided a few hundred rides to local residents.
"We figure the name and philosophy will catch on pretty quick," he said as we motored, "Hackie"-style, down Main Street on a tank full of biodeisel. "Every day, we get more calls."
Passing the Roxy, Herrick, 36, explained that he purchased the 1993 Benz — with only 79,082 miles — from a "little old lady" in Nebraska who graciously offered coffee and biscuits during the title-transfer ceremony. Another green cab is on the way, Herrick added, to be followed by all sorts of innovative rigs. Two ideas: a Prius with a solar panel on its roof, or electric cars charged on wind- and solar-generated electricity.
Later, we stopped for orange juice and a chocolate frosted, respectively, at Dunkin' Donuts, where Herrick talked about the ins and outs of the cabbie biz. "Bar run," just after 2 a.m., is the busiest time of day, at least until you acquire a steady daytime client base, Herrick explained, sipping his juice. He'd like to pay benefits to his three part-time drivers, but for now, they're all "independent contractors."
One of those drivers, it just so happens, reportedly pilots an ice-cream truck belonging to a certain Mr. Ding-a-Ling. Sounds like a delicious revolving door.
Cab driving may be a mobile business, but these days, Herrick is feeling more settled than ever. After graduating from Princeton in the early 1990s, this freelance web consultant spent 13 years "making enough money to travel and surf." He came to Vermont partly to get away from the ocean.
"I felt like I was a little adrift," he confessed as we cruised back to the Seven Days office, "and I needed a change."
He certainly found his footing. Vermont's where Herrick met his fiancee-slash-business partner, Lizzie. It's also where he wants to start a family. Um, cowabunga!
To hail a green cab, call 316-0700 or visit greencabvt.com.