The following article has been updated to reflect the correct number of monthly Bastrop E-Cab riders and the cost per rider.

The Bastrop City Council approved the extension of the city’s contract with Electric Cab of Austin for 60 days. During the 60-day period, the city will be in negotiations to provide the same services with a smaller fiscal impact.

E-Cabs is a free community service, providing transportation to an average of 600 riders in Bastrop each month. No longer funded by it original grant, the E-Cab service would cost the city of Bastrop $17 per rider under the original contract.

The background

The E-Cabs service was funded by a grant by the ​​U.S. Department of Energy in 2019. Devised in collaboration with the Lone Star Clean Fuels Alliance and E-Cabs of North America, the service was part of a two-year pilot project.

The grant that funded the E-Cabs service ended November 2022. The subsequent year of services were funded by Bastrop’s hotel occupancy tax; however, statistics show that tourist usage makes up less than 1% of E-Cab rides, making it ineligible for HOT tax funding.

“It was great when it was free and it was a grant, but now that it’s coming out of our general fund and not paid by the hotel tax, it doesn’t look that attractive,” council member Jimmy Crouch said at the Nov. 7 meeting.

The two-month renewal will be funded by excess revenues from the general fund for one-time expenses. The 60-day contract period was decided by the council in order to provide the community time to become aware of the change in service.

“I would hate to pull this type of service from our population that utilizes [it] to access needed goods and services without giving it really good consideration—allowing the staff to come up with an alternative plan,” Mayor Lyle Nelson said at the Nov. 7 meeting.

Going forward

Council considered the possibility of using the regional transportation system CARTS, or Capital Area Rural Transportation System, or a commercial ride-share service such as Uber to fill the gap in service upon the expiration of the new contract.

“CARTS is more appealing to me from a senior perspective because they do go into Austin; you can get to your doctor’s office in Austin,” City Manager Sylvia Carrillo said at the Nov. 18 meeting. “You can get further on a CARTS vehicle with some planning.”