Green Focus
Mike Shapiro’s goal of starting a taxicab company consisting of cars powered by an eco-friendly fuel, E85, never really got started.

“It was a bust,” Shapiro said. “Nobody called me.”

In September the village council authorized Shapiro to operate four of his E-Cabs in Forest Park. Each would feature an engine converted to run on E85, which is a corn based fuel that contains 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. The idea was to run a successful business that left a considerably smaller carbon footprint on the planet and to serve as a model to other entrepreneurs to that going green can be profitable.

Shapiro grabbed one of the taxi licenses available to him, painted his cab green and looked forward to earning enough money to cover the $1,000 expense of converting his engine. Surely, the calls would come flooding in.

But they didn’t.

Shapiro never even adapted his 1979 Ford Crown Victoria to burn E85 fuel.

“I’m not going to spend $1,000 for no business,” Shapiro said earlier this month.

A lack of public awareness may have doomed E-Cab. Shapiro distributed a few flyers at village hall and E-Cab was the subject of a front page story in this newspaper, but he didn’t do anything to spread the word other than to get a listing in the phone book.

“Maybe I was a little short on advertising,” Shapiro said. “I thought it was a good concept.”

Shapiro called the lack of calls “very disheartening.” But he has not totally given up.

He is now driving for Blue Cab, one of the largest taxi services in the village. He owns his cab and, on his own, is filling the gas tank with a mixture of regular gasoline and E85. He said the mixture of 55 percent gas and 45 percent alcohol does not harm the engine of his car. The fuel mixture is called “alcholeene,” he said, and he is exploring trademark possibilities.

For the long term though, Shapiro said he is looking to get back into the mortgage loan business, which he previously worked for many years.