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Going in “EcoStyle”: Clean, Green, Cruisin’ Machines

Story and photos by Leslie Huffman

Cary, NC – Need a ride to the airport? How about a night out on the town without the worry of driving? You can get this kind of service many places. A taxi, a limo, or a van service.

But take it a bit further. What if your driver came professionally dressed and picked you or your group up in a brand new hybrid electric vehicle? And this company cost you the same or up to 25% less that the standard car services?

That makes a huge difference to me. It also makes a major difference to hotels and corporate clients who are trying to reduce their carbon footprint while still providing quality professional services.

Making Better Choices

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the United States consumes 378 million gallons of gasoline every single day. The environmental costs to all this fossil fuel consumption is staggering.

Also, the vehicles we drive release over 1.7 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year, contributing to pollution and global climate change. Each gallon of gasoline burned creates 20 pounds of CO2. That’s about 6 to 9 tons of CO2 each year for a typical vehicle.

A good solution; make better choices. We should bike, walk, take public transportation and use our consumer power to use vehicles that are either hybrid, all electric or use biofuels.

Welcome EcoStyle – A Green Transportation Company

I recently met with Scott Tyler, Vice President of EcoStyle, at the Umstead Hotel in Cary. Scott came here after playing pro baseball and meeting his wife. He spent some years in the hospitality industry, but wanted to start his own business. He came up with a unique service that was missing in the Triangle.

In April this year, Scott and his business partner started the Triangle’s first eco-friendly corporate transport company, EcoStyle. Already they have contracts to handle all the transportation needs of corporate clients like SAS, Dex One and The Umstead Hotel.

“It makes me feel great knowing that people are accepting EcoStyle and truly appreciate the services that we are providing for them,” says Tyler. “When we launched EcoStyle, our goal was not only to start a company that revolutionized the industry, but added value to the surrounding communities.”

In addition to providing low-emission and energy-efficient transportation, Scott says that high standards, excellent service and a clean professional look is mandatory for all their drivers. They will pick you up from any location and take you where you need to go.

“I want people to know that when they call EcoStyle, they will receive a level of service that is unmatched. Our team at EcoStyle will always go above and beyond to fill our clients needs.”

They will also provide transportation to and from Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU), Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT), or Piedmont-Triad International Airport (GSO).

What Makes Them The Green Transportation Company?

Presently EcoStyle has 4 hybrid vehicles in their fleet with 2 more on order. Looking to the future, they plan to add several all electric vehicles.

  • Toyota Prius Hybrid – up to 2 passengers and gets 53 mpg city & 48 mpg hwy
  • Ford Fusion L Hybrid – up to 3 passengers and gets 41 mpg city &  38 mpg hwy
  • Chevy Tahoe Hybrid – up to 6 passengers and gets 20 mpg city & 23 mpg hwy

If you need something bigger like a bus for 10 or more, Scott will provide one from one of his partner companies. But, to negate the CO2 emissions generated, EcoStyle will then purchase carbon offsets through NC Green Power.

Other “green” initiatives include:

  • Paperless email billing & receipts
  • Driver’s uniforms made from recycled materials and organic cotton
  • Donate a percentage of profits to NC GreenPower, which funds renewable energy projects across North Carolina

While the corporate office is in Raleigh, most of the cars are staged at The Umstead Hotel. And, because of their exclusive use of EcoStyle’s services, the Umstead even installed several electric car charging stations for their use.

Next time my dinner club group is heading for a night out on the town, or I need airport transportation I think I will give Scott a call. When it comes to saving money, and reducing my environmental impact, it just seems like such a simple choice.

Transportation: Western Wake Freeway Update

Story and pictures by Hal Goodtree.

Cary, NC – Local news media has made much of the construction noise on 540. For those affected, it is indeed an unfortunate situation. But there’s more to the story of this road than just noise.

Where will it go? What will it cost? When will it be open? For answers, CaryCitizen turned to Joe Milazzo, Executive Director of the Regional Transportation Alliance. Read more

Environment: More on EV Charging Stations in Cary

Cary, NC – Following up on our Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Station story yesterday, Emily Barrett from ToC has passed along some info about other charging stations and plans in Cary. Read more

Cary Picks Siemens for EV Charging Stations

Cary, NC – According to a report on TheAutoChannel, Siemens has been selected to provide Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations for Cary. Read more

Roads: Warm Asphalt Mix

Photo from University of Alaska at Fairbanks.

Cary, NC – An interesting item came to our attention: the Town of Cary is repaving a portion of Green Level Church Road using Warm Asphalt Mix. Warm? Isn’t Asphalt supposed to be Hot? Read more

This Week’s Survey: Railroad Development in Cary

Survey by CaryCitizen.com. Photo by Ben Loudtiger.

Cary, North Carolina – Since last week’s survey on a proposed $10,000 Tax Credit for New Home Construction proved so popular, we’ve decided to try it out as a regular feature. This week, we want to know what you think about proposed rail development in Cary. Read more

Transportation: Triangle Moves Forward

Story by Hal Goodtree. Pictured above: Personal Rapid Transit vehicle.

Cary, NC –  The Regional Transportation Alliance (RTA) held its annual meeting at Embassy Suites in Cary last Wednesday. More than 200 business leaders, elected officials and transportation experts from across the Triangle gathered to hear the “State of Mobility” presentation on transportation issues and accomplishments in our region during the last year.

Accomplishments

Good transportation – by road, rail and air – is vital to the economic health of our region. It’s also a vital factor in our “quality of life.” After all, who wants to live in a region that’s a transportation nightmare? Ask any transplant from New York, Boston or Atlanta.

The good news, as reported by Joe Milazzo, RTA Executive Director and Rick Weddle, RTA Chair, was that the Triangle has a pretty robust transportation infrastructure and it’s improving steadily. Several important projects were started or funded this year:

  • 147 Triangle Expressway – Now under construction. Slated for completion in December 2011.
  • NC 540 – Now under construction. Slated for completion in December 2012.
  • East End Connector – Also called the I-85 Connector, it will hook up 540 and 147 with I-85, eliminating a detour through city streets on our major artery to the north. Construction will begin in Fall 2013.

Buses or Trains?

One of the key issues for 2011, according to Milazzo, is to decide between two competing plans for the next 15 years. Both plans mix bus and train components, but in different measures.

  • Plan 1 – Major improvements to rail transportation, completing a grid from UNC Chapel Hill through Durham, RTP, Cary and Raleigh, extending down to Clayton and up to Wake Forest. Incremental improvement in bus transportation.
  • Plan 2 – Major improvements in bus transportation, incremental steps in improving our regional rail grid. The rail links from north Raleigh to Wake Forest  and between Durham and Chapel Hill are not in this plan..

Both plans are scheduled to be completed by 2025.

At stake is which plan will be submitted to a voter referendum on a proposed half percent sales tax increase to fund transportation.

Interestingly, both plans have Cary pretty much in the center of transportation grid. But for other towns, which plan gets adopted could have a big impact on their future.

What Do You Think?

Generally speaking, would you like to see more rail or more bus in the Triangle? Send you thoughts to transportation@carycitizen.com.

Gaining Altitude at RDU

Milazzo also highlighted several interesting developments at RDU.

  • RDU flights are cheaper than similar flights from CLT (Charlotte)
  • RDU is one of the nation’s most successful as measured by growth
  • Delta added 14 new flights in August (as reported on CaryCitizen)

The renovation of Terminal 2 has been moved up to January 23, 2010 to accommodate the flood of visitors for the NHL All-Star Game the following week. The expansion of Terminal 2, the largest project in the history of RDU, has been going on for five years and will add 17 new gates plus 13 shops and restaurants.

RDU released this photo in October of decorative concrete recently poured outside the bag claim area.

Personal Rapid Transit and Other Pot Pourri

The RTA really brings together some innovative thinking about transportation. Some interesting tidbits for Cary citizens:

  • Quick Crossovers – An alternative to Roundabouts. They’re quick to fund, build and use and are gaining popularity across the U.S.
  • BOSS – Stands for “Bus on Shoulder.” It’s an easy retrofit for existing highways. We may to see it in a few years on I-40.
  • Personal Rapid Transit (pictured top of page) – This personal transportation pod, which looks like something from the Jetsons (or maybe a toaster), is already in use at Heathrow Airport.

Quick crossover, or diverging diamond exchanges, are an attractive alternative to roundabouts.

RTA Means Business

The Regional Transportation Alliance, with the motto “Let’s Get Moving,” serves as the voice of business for transportation initiatives and policy across the Triangle.  The Alliance focuses on strategic issues that will decrease the area’s commuting times, expand mobility options, improve shipping efficiency, and attract and retain top businesses in the region. The Alliance was founded by the Cary, Chapel Hill-Carrboro, Durham, and Raleigh chambers of commerce in 1999.

Over 100 major businesses including Cisco, IBM, Progress Energy, Quintiles and Research Triangle Park, along with 23 area chambers of commerce are members of the Alliance.

Harold’s Blog: Jam-Packed Week

From the blog of  Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, covering the week of October 31, 2010.

This week was a busy week with several events and a council meeting.

The Love Affair with Trains and Cary

Monday’s first event was the groundbreaking ceremony of the Cary Depot. I met several State and Federal officials at the train station in Raleigh. After a short reception, we boarded the train to Cary. As we arrived in Cary and departed the train, the Cary Band played “I’ve been working on the Railroad.” Getting off a train with a band playing was a unique and surreal experience for me. I thought that only happened in the movies. Anyway, it was a great treat and made me proud to represent Cary. Read more

Profile: Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht

Cary, NC – I can’t say I’ve ever been convinced that a politician was simply in politics to do the “right thing” until I met Mayor Weinbrecht.

He’s like the other people in your neighborhood.  He works a full-time job as a programmer (at SAS), is devoted to his family and his church, volunteers for activities in the community and loves Cary.

When talking with him, his sincerity is obvious: he just wants Cary to thrive.  His words aren’t contrived, there are no “talking points” and he is forthcoming with his opinions. The Mayor responded to my e-mail request to interview him in 11 minutes. Read more