A taxicab, also known as a taxi or a cab, is a type of vehicle for hire with a driver, used by a single passenger or small group of passengers, often for a non-shared ride. A taxicab conveys passengers between locations of their choice. This differs from other modes of public transport where the pick-up and drop-off locations are determined by the service provider, not by the passenger, although demand responsive transport and share taxis provide a hybrid bus/taxi mode.
There are four distinct forms of taxicab, which can be identified by slightly differing terms in different countries:
- Hackney carriages, also known as public hire, hailed or street taxis, licensed for hailing throughout communities
- Private hire vehicles, also known as minicabs or private hire taxis, licensed for pre-booking only
- Taxibuses, also known as jitneys, operating on pre-set routes typified by multiple stops and multiple independent passengers
- Limousines, specialized vehicle licensed for operation by pre-booking
Although types of vehicles and methods of regulation, hiring, dispatching, and negotiating payment differ significantly from country to country, many common characteristics exist.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 History
- 3 Vehicles
- 3.1 Afghanistan
- 3.2 Australia and New Zealand
- 3.3 Bangladesh
- 3.4 Bulgaria
- 3.5 Guyana
- 3.6 Hong Kong
- 3.7 India
- 3.8 Iraq
- 3.9 Indonesia
- 3.10 Ireland
- 3.11 Italy
- 3.12 Japan
- 3.13 Mexico
- 3.14 Norway
- 3.15 Panamá
- 3.16 Romania
- 3.17 Singapore
- 3.18 South Africa
- 3.19 South Korea
- 3.20 Spain
- 3.21 Trinidad and Tobago
- 3.22 United Kingdom
- 3.23 United States and Canada
- 3.24 USSR
- 3.25 Wheelchair-accessible taxicabs
- 3.26 Other
- 4 Livery
- 5 Hiring
- 6 Dispatching
- 7 Navigation
- 8 Environmental concerns
- 9 Regulation
- 10 International Trade Association
- 11 Current taxi industry inquiries
- 12 Occupational hazards
- 13 See also
- 14 References
- 15 External links
Harry Nathaniel Allen of The New York Taxicab Co., who imported the first 600 gas-powered New York taxicabs from France in 1907, coined the word "taxicab" as a contraction of "taximeter cabriolet". "Taximeter" is an adaptation of the French word taximètre, coined from Medieval Latin taxa, which means tax or charge, together with meter from the Greek metron (μέτρον) meaning measure. A "cabriolet" is a type of horse-drawn carriage, from the French word "cabrioler" ("leap, caper"), from Italian "capriolare" ("to jump"), from Latin "capreolus" ("roebuck", "wild goat").
Horse-drawn for-hire hackney carriage services began operating in both Paris and London in the early 17th century. The first documented public hackney coach service for hire was in London 1605. In 1625 carriages were made available for hire from innkeepers in London and the first taxi rank appeared on the Strand outside the Maypole Inn in 1636. In 1635 the Hackney Carriage Act was passed by Parliament to legalise horse-drawn carriages for hire. Coaches were hired out by innkeepers to merchants and visitors. A further "Ordinance for the Regulation of Hackney-Coachmen in London and the places adjacent" was approved by Parliament in 1654 and the first hackney-carriage licences were issued in 1662.
A similar service was started by Nicolas Sauvage in Paris in 1640. His vehicles were known as fiacres, as the main vehicle depot apparently was opposite a shrine to Saint Fiacre. (The term fiacre is still used in French to describe a horse-drawn vehicle for hire, while the German term Fiaker is used, especially in Austria, to refer to the same thing).
The hansom cab was designed and patented in 1834 by Joseph Hansom, an architect from York as a substantial improvement on the old hackney carriages. They were fast, light enough to be pulled by a single horse (making the journey cheaper than travelling in a larger four-wheel coach) were agile enough to steer around horse-drawn vehicles in the notorious traffic jams of nineteenth-century London and had a low centre of gravity for safe cornering. Hansom's original design was modified by John Chapman and several others to improve its practicability, but retained Hansom's name.
These soon replaced the hackney carriage as a vehicle for hire and with the introduction of a clockwork mechanical taximeter to measure the fare, the name became "taxicab". They quickly spread to other cities in the United Kingdom, as well as continental European cities, particularly Paris, Berlin, and St Petersburg. The cab was introduced to other British Empire cities and to the United States during the late 19th century, being most commonly used in New York.
Electric battery-powered taxis became available at the end of the 19th century. In London, Walter C. Bersey designed a fleet of such cabs and introduced them to the streets of London in 1897. They were soon nicknamed 'Hummingbirds’ due to the idiosyncratic humming noise they made. In the same year in New York City, the Samuel's Electric Carriage and Wagon Company began running 12 electric hansom cabs. The company ran until 1898 with up to 62 cabs operating until it was reformed by its financiers to form the Electric Vehicle Company.
The modern taximeter was invented by German inventor Friedrich Wilhelm Gustav Bruhn. and the Daimler Victoria—the world's first meter-equipped (and gasoline-powered) taxicab—was built by Gottlieb Daimler in 1897 and began operating in Stuttgart in 1897. Gasoline-powered taxicabs began operating in Paris in 1899, in London in 1903, and in New York in 1907. The New York taxicabs were imported from France by Harry N. Allen who decided to paint his taxicabs yellow to maximise his vehicles' visibility.
Taxicabs proliferated around the world in the early 20th century. The first major innovation after the invention of the taximeter occurred in the late 1940s, when two-way radios first appeared in taxicabs. Radios enabled taxicabs and dispatch offices to communicate and serve customers more efficiently than previous methods, such as using callboxes. The next major innovation occurred in the 1980s, when computer assisted dispatching was first introduced.
As emergency transport
Taxis played a key part in the First Battle of the Marne. Of the 10,000 French reserve infantry troops ferried from Paris, 6,000 were transported by the 600-strong taxi fleet (7 September 1914).
The Birmingham pub bombings (21 November 1974), which killed 21 people and injured 182, presented emergency services with unprecedented peace time demands. According to eye witness accounts, the fire officer in charge, knowing the 40 ambulances he requested were unlikely to be available, requested the Taxi Owners Association to transport the injured to the nearby Birmingham Accident Hospital and Birmingham General Hospital.
Taxi service is typically provided by automobiles, but various human-powered vehicles, (such as the rickshaw or pedicab) and animal-powered vehicles (such as the Hansom cab) or even boats (such as water taxies or gondolas) are also used or have been used historically. In Western Europe, Bissau, and to an extent, Australia, it is not uncommon for expensive cars such as Mercedes-Benz to be the taxicab of choice. Often this decision is based upon the perceived reliability of, and warranty offered with these vehicles. These taxi-service vehicles are almost always equipped with four-cylinder turbodiesel engines and relatively low levels of equipment, and are not considered luxury cars. This has changed though in countries, such as Denmark, where tax regulation make it profitable to sell the vehicles after a few years of service, which requires the cars to be well equipped and kept in good condition.
||It has been suggested that this article be merged into Taxicabs by country. (Discuss) Proposed since March 2012.|
There are old-style soviet taxi cabs in Afghanistan, still used as regular taxis to the present day. But Nowadays the Wagon type Toyota Corollas are mostly used.
Australia and New Zealand
Traditionally in Australia, taxicabs are mainly Ford Falcons. There are premium operators who mainly operate Ford Fairlanes and Holden Statesman/Caprices. Almost all Australian taxicabs run on liquefied petroleum gas. More recently, the Chrysler 300C Turbo Diesel and BMW 5-series diesel have been introduced to replace the phased out Fairlane. The Toyota Prius is also used in metropolitan areas. There are also "maxi taxis" which mostly are for-hire minibuses; Toyota Hiaces, Volkswagen Multivans and Mercedes-Benz Vitos are typically used.
In New Zealand, as in Australia, Holden Commodores and Ford Falcons were the traditional taxicab of choice. However, in the last decade large front wheel drive V6 models such as Toyota Avalons, Nissan Maximas and Toyota Camrys predominated. In the main centres these are now being replaced by lower carbon-emission vehicles, primarily the Toyota Prius.
At the other end of the scale, the traditional "corporate cabs" such as Ford Fairlanes and Holden Statesman/Caprices are now becoming obsolete. As in other countries, suitable replacements for these traditional livery service vehicles are unclear.
In Guyana taxis are most commonly Toyota Carinas, Toyota Corollas, and Nissan Laurels. Any vehicle registered with the first letter as "H" is a taxi. There are over 20000 registered taxis in the country. Some cars are not registered to be taxis but still operate as them. They are called Private Hire cars and operate illegally in the country. They have "P" plates and are not authorised to operate as a taxi, they are private cars e.g."PNN 1515". As of 2010 taxis are required to be painted yellow. They also have a sticker on the rear bumper that reads Hackney Carriage.
In India, the most common taxis are Premier Automobiles (Fiat), Maruti Omni, Tata Indica and Hindustan Ambassador. Small LPG auto-rickshaws are more commonly used in the suburbs. Recently Toyota Innova and Toyota Corolla are becoming more common.In Kolkata, yellow coloured Ambassador are used as taxis bearing a 'Taxi' name plate on the top.Air conditioned Kolkata cabs are also available.You may also find new blue white no refusal a.c taxi in Kolkata from 2014,like Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire Tour, Ford Classic Duratorq, Hindustan Ambassador Encore, Tata Manza, Tata Indigo eCS.The fleet completely involve Indigo Marina cars. In Mumbai, most hailable taxis can be easily identified by their black and yellow color scheme. Air conditioned taxis (Cool Cabs) have blue and silver color scheme. In Delhi, most commercial taxis can be identified in white color. While auto cabs are in green color with CNG facilitation. Toyota Innova categoriesed in MUVs, while "Tempo traveller" are used commonly by groups of travelers.
Before 2003 the most common taxis were the 1980 Toyota Crown, 1980-1981 Toyota Corona, 1980 Chevrolet Malibu, 1983-1988 Volkswagen Passat. But after 2003 they changed into the Saipa Saba, BYD F3, Chery Cowin, Geely CK, Mitsubishi Lancer, Renault Logan, Chevrolet ( Optra, Impala, Aveo), Nissan Sunny, Dodge Charger.
Indonesian taxicabs mostly operate Toyota Limo and Hyundai Accent. However there are also Nissan Latio, Kia Rio, Kia Cerato, Chevrolet Kalos, Suzuki Ertiga, Nissan Almera, and several models of Proton. In the past, the Toyota Soluna, Nissan Sunny, and Ford Laser were popular. Some companies offer premium taxicabs service which use Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. There are also premium taxicabs which use luxury MPV such as Toyota Alphard and Mercedes Viano. Previously they ran Nissan Cedric Y31 and Toyota Crown Comfort. Traditional Indonesian taxis are special hooded rickshaws driven from the back called becaks which are often used in smaller cities such as Surabaya and Yogyakarta. "Auto rickshaws", called bajais, provide local transportation in the back streets of some parts of Jakarta and other cities.
In Italy taxis are usually notchback sedans, station wagons or minivans/LAVs, all painted in white; common taxicabs are Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Mercedes-Benz Viano, Fiat Multipla, Fiat Doblò, Dacia Logan estate, Toyota Prius, and also Peugeot, Renault, Ford, Volkswagen, Škoda models. Venice uses the traditional gondola or modern water taxis.
In Japan, taxicabs each have colours or designs based on the company. The majority of Japanese cars are white, silver or black. Some taxis adopt showy colours, such as green, red, and orange, to attract customers' attention.
Most Japanese taxis are one of three types of cars: the Toyota Comfort; Nissan Crew; and Nissan Cedric Y31. They all have automatic passenger doors, which open when a button is pressed by the driver. However, elite taxis may have drivers that manually open the door for the passenger.
Recently, some taxi companies have selected Toyota Crown S170 and/or S180 as taxis because cars made for use as taxis (such as Comfort, Crew and Cedric) have very plain interiors.
This causes Japanese car manufacturers to sell most cars with gasoline powered engines only (Ordinary people use cars with gasoline powered engines.). Most Japanese taxi companies want to use cars with LPG powered engines (Gasoline is more expensive than LPG in Japan. Large-sized vehicles like buses use diesel engines.), cars with LPG powered engines exist only in a few kinds.
In Mexico, Mexico City's ubiquitous Volkswagen Type 1 (Beetle) cabs were green and white (being firstly yellow) by law until early 2003. No VWs are coloured this way anymore. Matchbox released a scale model of the VW taxi in 2004, numbered 31. Due to their popularity in Mexico, VW Beetles are commonly referred to as Vochos, short for Volkswagen, the name given to them there. However, the two-door Volkswagens have largely been displaced by more suitable four-door sedans, the Nissan Tsuru, a Sentra MkIII based saloon. Other taxis can range from Fords to Mercedes-Benzes, with the most common being Taurus, Chevy hatchbacks (a re-badged Opel Corsa), and Volkswagen Pointers. With this reform came a new color scheme (Maroon and Gold, with images of the Angel de la Independencia) and more stringent requirements for documentation. Official taxis now must present a large green-colored license in the back left window, which contains the driver's name, photo and permission to operate a taxi. There are also many taxicab bus models known as peseros as the original taxi service began in Mexico City charged only one peso.
Actually, Mexico City is making a taxicab renovation with new color scheme in scarlet and gold and new license plate system with the letters A, B, C, M and S. Some private taxicab companies and associations use their own color schemes but respect the 2 official colors and license plate number, and prohibit the use of 2-door vehicles of any type. A progressive discontinuation of the VW Sedan (Vocho) is also included on this initiative. Not all 'vocho' models are retired from active service, but will be retired as soon as possible to update the taxi service.
In the same city they put the first electric taxi service since 2012, renewed at 2014, passing the property of the electric vehicles to the public transport operator "STE"(Servicio de Transportes Electricos del D.F.).
In Norway, the end of year 2009 roster showed that 41.9% of the 8961 taxicabs were from Mercedes-Benz, and several manufacturers that can offer a diesel-engined executive car are represented. 91.6% of Norwegian taxis are equipped with diesel engines. Among "maxitaxis" (minibuses operating as taxis), Mercedes-Benz vehicles such as the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter constitute 70% of the fleet. The Mercedes-Benz E-classes is the most common new cab, with the hybrid Toyota Prius in second place, the latter having increased its sales due to the tax regime favoring low carbon dioxide emissions.
In Panama are most commonly late '90s Japanese Compact or Subcompact Cars such Nissan Sentra B13 or B14, Toyota Corolla, Toyota Tercel, Mitsubishi Lancer, Mazda 323, and some more larger car such Toyota Corona T190, Nissan Primera P11, Nissan Bluebird U12, Nissan Frontier D22, Nissan Pathfinder R50, Hyundai Stellar, First Generation of Kia Sportage, Isuzu Pickups or later models of Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra or the Hyundai Elantra.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (June 2014)|
In Romania the car most used as a taxi is the Dacia Logan, more comfortable than other cars but charging a higher rate. Taxi drivers are well paid. The Dacia Logan was modified inside and has a computer that calculate miles. Also used as taxis are the Chevrolet Spark (rarely), Dacia Sandero, Dacia Solenza, Škoda Fabia and others.
In Singapore, Hyundai Sonata and Hyundai i40 taxis are most common, while there are also Nissan Cedric (now phasing out), Toyota Corona and Toyota Crown (now phased out), Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Honda Airwave, Toyota Wish, Škoda Superb, Kia Magentis, Chevrolet Epica, Toyota Prius and more taxis. Several Taxi companies also operate CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) Taxis. There are also other cabs which charge higher booking rates, for example the Chrysler 300C and the Maxicab and Space taxi, which are Mercedes-Benz Vitos and SsangYong Stavic/Rodiuses respectively. Taxi liveries differ between companies, with the two most common being blue and yellow (ComfortDelgro). Less common are red and white (TransCab), silver (SilverCab), white (varied), black (varied) and copper-coloured (Prime). There are also privately run Yellow-Top taxis with a black body and a yellow roof, with no company logo that are getting very rare as no more Yellow-Top taxi licenses are being issued as of now. Many taxis have advertisements pasted on them.
South Africa has two kind of taxis, minibus taxis which are fifteen seated vehicles and meter cabs that seat between four and seven passengers. Minibus taxis and meter taxis are mostly Toyota manufactured. Minibus taxis uses Toyota HiAce and meter taxisToyota Avanza
In the 1970s and 1980s most taxicabs in South Korea were three Hyundai models—the Hyundai Pony, Hyundai Presto and Hyundai Stellar. Daewoo Prince was a very popular taxi model in the 1990s. Recently, most taxicabs are domestic midsize sedans such as Hyundai Sonata, Kia K5, and Samsung SM5. South Korean taxis are almost exclusively of South Korean make and manufacture.
In Spain, normally the cab cars are comfortable, half luxury or luxury cars, and all of them have features added. The most common taxi cars in Spain are SEAT Exeo, Opel Insignia, Peugeot 508, Ford Mondeo, Volkswagen Passat, Škoda Octavia, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A6, BMW 5 series, BMW 3 series, Audi A4, Alfa Romeo 159, Seat Leon, Škoda Superb cars or Lexus IS. You may also find MPV or SUV models such as Peugeot 5008, SEAT Alhambra, SEAT Altea XL, Volkswagen Touran or Qashqai XL which are sometimes also adapted to carry wheelchair passengers. Hybrid taxi vehicles are now common in many Spanish cities, especially the Toyota Prius hybrid, but other models are used as well, such as the new Toyota Auris hybrid. Every day, there are more green taxis in the greatest cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Zaragoza or Seville with Toyota Prius Hybrid cars.
Trinidad and Tobago
In Trinidad and Tobago the vehicles most commonly used as taxis are fifth-generation Nissan Cedrics, fifth and sixth-generation Nissan Laurels, 6th to 8th generation Toyota Crowns, Datsun Bluebirds and any other vehicles registered with an "H". However in Trinidad, many cars still operate as taxicabs even without being registered. These "illegal" taxicabs are called "PH" or "P/H" taxis due to the fact that private cars are registered with a "P" for example, "PAU 6767". Private taxi companies are scarce and expensive, hence all taxis in Trinidad are both driver managed and driver operated. These privately owned taxis vary in colour and model, therefore one would almost never see a "Yellow cab" in Trinidad and Tobago. Unlike Maxi taxis that are colour-coded to a specific area, taxicabs are not colour-coded.
In the United Kingdom there is currently a debate as to the most appropriate vehicles to be licensed as taxis. Local authorities are split between those that adopt the Metropolitan Conditions of Fitness, which are widely interpreted to require London-style Black taxis (Austin FX4, TX1, TXII, TX4), and those that allow a wider range of vehicles. The debate is informed, but not resolved, by a desire to implement accessible taxis as defined and required under the Disability Discrimination Act (1995), but not enforced in all authority areas. The UK's devolved administrations (Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales) have devolved responsibilities for taxi-licensing law (but not for application, which is enforced at a local authority level). Scotland can, but chooses not to, define a national vehicle standard. Northern Ireland, which operates as a single authority under the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland, operates a four-vehicle structure.
The most common taxi cars in other areas of Britain are Vauxhall Insignia, Peugeot 406, Peugeot 407, Ford Mondeo, Volkswagen Passat, Škoda Octavia, Mazda6, Honda Accord, Mitsubishi Carisma, Ford Focus, Nissan Primera, Vauxhall Vectra, SEAT Toledo, Hyundai i30, Lexus IS, Vauxhall Signum, Volkswagen Jetta/Bora, Saab 9-3, Toyota Auris, Proton Impian, Mitsubishi Lancer, Fiat Stilo, Jaguar X-Type, Vauxhall Antara, Renault Laguna, Honda Civic, Audi A6, Chevrolet Lacetti, Toyota Corolla, Honda CR-V, Kia Carens, Citroën C5, Proton Wira, Peugeot 307, Škoda Fabia (estate), Vauxhall Astra, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Volkswagen Golf, Toyota Prius, Škoda Superb or Toyota Avensis.
You may also find MPV, Minibus or LAV models such as Volkswagen Sharan, Vauxhall Zafira, Ford Galaxy, Mazda5, Hyundai Trajet, Mercedes-Benz V-Class, Renault Espace, SEAT Alhambra, Volkswagen Transporter, Kia Carens, Peugeot Expert, Fiat Scudo, Peugeot 807, Toyota Hiace, Hyundai Matrix, Ford S-Max, Renault Kangoo, Kia Sedona, Mitsubishi Space Star, Honda FR-V, Citroën Xsara Picasso/C4 Picasso, Ford C-Max, Citroën Dispatch, Toyota Previa/Estima/Lucida, Toyota Verso, Renault Trafic, Škoda Roomster or Fiat Doblò which are sometimes also adapted to carry wheelchair passengers.
United States and Canada
The most common taxi car in the United States and Canada is the Crown Victoria, as well the Lincoln Town Car. They both offer a spacious interior and V8 engines. The Crown Victoria is slowly being phased out by both taxi companies and The Ford Motor Company. More fuel efficient and Hybrid taxis are becoming more common in North America, such as the Toyota Camry hybrid, Toyota Prius hybrid, Ford Escape hybrid and Honda Civic hybrid. Historically, the purpose-built cars made by the Checker Motors Corporation were the iconic U.S. cab.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (July 2011)|
In recent years, some companies have been adding specially modified vehicles capable of transporting wheelchair-using passengers to their fleets. Such taxicabs are variously called accessible taxis, wheelchair- or wheelchair-accessible taxicabs, modified taxicabs, and so on.
Wheelchair taxicabs are most often specially modified vans or minivans. Wheelchair-using passengers are loaded, with the help of the driver, via a lift or, more commonly, a ramp, at the rear of the vehicle. This feature is however a subject for concern amongst Licensing Authorities who feel that the wheelchair passenger could not easily exit the vehicle in the event of accident damage to the rear door. The latest generation of accessible taxis features side loading with emergency egress possible from either of the 2 side doors as well as the rear. The wheelchair is secured using various systems, commonly including some type of belt and clip combination, or wheel locks. Some wheelchair taxicabs are capable of transporting only one wheelchair-using passenger at a time, and can usually accommodate 4 to 6 additional able-bodied passengers.
Wheelchair taxicabs are part of the regular fleet in most cases, and so are not reserved exclusively for the use of wheelchair users. They are often used by able-bodied people who need to transport luggage, small items of furniture, animals, and other items. Because of this, and since only a small percentage of the average fleet is modified, wheelchair users must often wait for significantly longer periods when calling for a cab, and flagging a modified taxicab on the street is much more difficult.
These particular taxicabs have developed their own special names such as, 'Maxicabs'.
Taxicabs in less developed places can be a completely different experience, such as the antique French cars typically found in Cairo. However, starting March 2006, newer modern taxicabs entered the service operated by various private companies. Taxicabs differ in other ways as well: London's black cabs have a large compartment beside the driver for storing bags, while many fleets of regular taxis also include wheelchair accessible taxicabs among their numbers (see below). Although taxicabs have traditionally been sedans, minivans, hatchbacks and even SUV taxicabs are becoming increasingly common. In many cities, limousines operate as well, usually in competition with taxicabs and at higher fares.
Recently, with growing concern for the environment, there have been solar powered taxicabs. On April 20, 2008, a "solar taxi tour" was launched that aimed to tour 15 countries in 18 months in a solar taxi that can reach speeds of 90 km/h with zero emission. The aim of the tour was to spread knowledge about environmental protection.
Most places allow a taxi to be "hailed" or "flagged" on the side of the street as it is approaching. Another option is a taxi stand (sometimes also called a "cab stand," "hack stand," "taxi rank," or "cab rank"). Taxi stands are usually located at airports, railway stations, major retail areas (malls), hotels and other places where a large number of passengers are likely to be found. In some places—Japan, for example—taxi stands are arranged according to the size of the taxis, so that large- and small-capacity cabs line up separately. The taxi at the front of the line is due (barring unusual circumstances) for the next fare. In the United States, a nut is industry slang for the amount of money a driver has to pay upfront to lease a taxi for a specific period of time. Once that amount is collected in fare, the driver then begins to make a profit. A driver "on the nut" is trying to earn back the initial cost. This varies from city to city though, in Las Vegas, Nevada, all taxicabs are owned and operated by the companies and all drivers are employees (hence no initial cost and earn a percentage of each fare). So "on the nut" simply means to be next in a taxi stand to receive a passenger.
Passengers also commonly call a central dispatch office for taxis. In some jurisdictions private hire vehicles can only be hired from the dispatch office, and must be assigned each fare by the office by radio or phone. Picking up passengers off the street in these areas can lead to suspension or revocation of the driver's taxi license, or even prosecution.
Other areas may have a mix of the two systems, where drivers may respond to radio calls and also pick up street fares.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (December 2010)|
The activity of taxi fleets is usually monitored and controlled by a central office, which provides dispatching, accounting, and human resources services to one or more taxi companies. Taxi owners and drivers usually communicate with the dispatch office through either a 2-way radio or a computer terminal (called a mobile data terminal). Before the innovation of radio dispatch in the 1950s, taxi drivers would use a callbox—a special telephone at a taxi stand—to contact the dispatch office.
When a customer calls for a taxi, a trip is dispatched by either radio or computer, via an in-vehicle mobile data terminal, to the most suitable cab. The most suitable cab may either be the one closest to the pick-up address (often determined by GPS coordinates nowadays) or the one that was the first to book into the "zone" surrounding the pickup address. Cabs are sometimes dispatched from their taxi stands; a call to "Top of the 2" means that the first cab in line at stand #2 is supposed to pick someone up.
In offices using radio dispatch, taxi locations are often tracked using magnetic pegs on a "board"—a metal sheet with an engraved map of taxi zones. In computerized dispatch, the status of taxis is tracked by the computer system.
Taxi frequencies are generally licensed in duplex pairs. One frequency is used for the dispatcher to talk to the cabs, and a second frequency is used to the cabs to talk back. This means that the drivers generally cannot talk to each other. Some cabs have a CB radio in addition to the company radio so they can speak to each other.
In the United States, there is a Taxicab Radio Service with pairs assigned for this purpose. A taxi company can also be licensed in the Business Radio Service. Business frequencies in the UHF range are also licensed in pairs to allow for repeaters, though taxi companies usually use the pair for duplex communications.
Some companies don't operate their own radio system and instead subscribe to an Specialized Mobile Radio system. The conventional radios are most suited to companies that operate within the local area and have a high volume of radio traffic. The SMR is more commonly used by black car services that cover a wider area, and smaller companies who use less airtime and don't want to run their own radio systems. With the advent of public data networks in the 1990s, operators are beginning to use PDAs and advanced mobile phones for dispatching and tracking functions in lieu of the traditional radio. Some small car services don't use a dispatcher at all. Instead the customers' calls are forwarded to the cell phones of whichever drivers are on duty at the time.
In many countries however, the influence of mobile telecom operators through 8294 premium short code or alikes, which direct millions of mobile calls to the TAXI companies contracted (as 18.104.22.168 shortcode means T.A.X.I on any mobile phone worldwide), do influence the business trends when hailing for a TAXI, already impacted initially by the emergence of large radio dispatching private or virtual networks. Also independent taxi owners, as well as TAXI companies started in response to advertise long vanity phone numbers including 8294 number as vanity code for TAXI, for customer easy remembering of their commercial line when in need for a TAXI. Because of the overwhelming possession and use of mobile phone, the battle has moved to smartphone related marketing and mobile services CRM for taxi, through mobile universal directories of TAXI details, available worldwide on any mobile phone downtown or at the airport, as mobile directories such as www.8294.tel alternatively to yellow pages paper book edition, and also in competition with the launch of multiple mobile apps offering location services, taxis fare calculation, as well as direct call to TAXIs contracted by app editor. The ongoing trend of mobile usage is reshaping progressively the taxi business initially born as a nearly fixed infrastructure business regulated and ruled by City Halls.
Taxi dispatch is evolving in connection to the telecom sector with the advent of smart-phones. In some countries such as Australia, Canada, Germany, the UK and USA smartphone applications are emerging that connect taxi drivers directly with passengers for the purpose of dispatching taxi jobs, launching new battles for the marketing of such apps over the potential mass of Taxi users.
Taxi Fares are set by the State and City where they are permitted to operate. The fare includes the 'drop', a set amount that is tallied for getting into the taxi plus the 'per mile' rate as has been set by the City. The taxi meters track time as well as miles in a typical taxi fare.
Most experienced taxi drivers who have been working in the same city or region for a while would be expected to know the most important streets and places where their customers request to go. However, to aid the process of manual navigation and the taxi driver's memory (and the customer's as well at times) a cab driver is usually equipped with a detailed roadmap of the area in which they work. There is also an increasing use of GPS driven navigational systems in the more wealthy countries around the world.
In London, despite the complex and haphazard road layout, such aids have only recently been employed by a small number of 'black cab' taxi (as opposed to minicab) drivers. Instead, they are required to undergo a demanding process of learning and testing called The Knowledge. This typically takes around three years and equips them with a detailed command of 25,000 streets within central London, major routes outside this area, and all buildings and other destinations to which passengers may ask to be taken.
Taxicabs have been both criticized for creating pollution and also hailed as an environmentally responsible alternative to private car use.
The results, published in the journal Atmospheric Environment in January 2006, showed that the level of pollution that people are exposed to differs according to the mode of transport that they use. The most risky method of transport was the back seat of a taxicab, followed by travelling by bus, cycling, walking, with a private car exposing people to the lowest amount of pollution.
Alternative energy and propulsion
In Australia, nearly all taxis run on LPG, as well as the growing fleet of hybrids. Argentina and the main cities of Brazil have large fleets of taxis running on natural gas. Many Brazilian taxis are flexible-fuel vehicles running on sugarcane ethanol, and some are equipped to run on either natural gas or as a flex-fuel. At least two Brazilian car markers sell these type of bi-fuel vehicles.
San Francisco became in 2005 one of the first cities to introduce hybrids for taxi service, with a fleet of 15 Ford Escape Hybrids, and by 2009 the original Escape Hybrids were retired after 300,000 miles per vehicle. In 2007 the city approved the Clean Air Taxi Grant Program in order to encourage cab companies to purchase alternative fuel vehicles, by providing incentives of USD2,000 per new alternative fuel vehicle on a first-come, first-served basis. Out of a total of 1,378 eligible vehicles (wheelchair-accessible taxi-vans are excluded) 788 are alternative fuel vehicles, representing 57% of the San Francisco's taxicab fleet by March 2010. Gasoline-electric hybrids accounted for 657 green taxis and compressed natural gas vehicles for 131.
As of mid-2009 New York City had 2,019 hybrid taxis and 12 clean diesel vehicles, representing 15% of New York's 13,237 taxis in service, the most in any city in North America. At this time owners began retiring its original hybrid fleet after 300,000 and 350,00 miles per vehicle. Two attempts by the Bloomberg Administration to implement policies to force the replacement of all New York's 13,000 taxis for hybrids by 2012 have been blocked by court rulings.
Chicago is following New York City's lead by proposing a mandate for Chicago's entire fleet of 6,700 taxicabs to become hybrid by 1 January 2014. As of 2008 Chicago's fleet had only 50 hybrid taxicabs. In 2008 Boston mandated that its entire taxi fleet must be converted to hybrids by 2015. Arlington, Virginia also has a small fleet of 85 environmentally friendly hybrid cabs introduced in early 2008. The green taxi expansion is part of a county campaign known as Fresh AIRE, or Arlington Initiative to Reduce Emissions, and included a new all-hybrid taxi company called EnviroCAB, which became the first all-hybrid taxicab fleet in the United States, and the first carbon-negative taxicab company in the world A similar all-hybrid taxicab company, Clean Air Cab, was launched in Phoenix, Arizona in October 2009.
In Japan, electric taxicabs are becoming increasingly popular. In 2009, battery-swap company Better Place teamed with the Japanese government to trial a fleet of electric taxis with the Better Place battery-swap system in Yokohama. In 2010, the taxi company Hinomaru Linousine Company launched two Mitsubishi i MiEV electric taxicabs in Tokyo. Both taxicabs had female drivers and were branded under ZeRO TAXI livery.
Hybrid taxis are becoming more and more common in Canada, with all new taxis in British Columbia being hybrids, or other fuel efficient vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius or Toyota Corolla. Hybrids such as the Ford Escape Hybrid are slowly being added to the taxicab fleet in Mexico City.
Other cities where taxi service is available with hybrid vehicles include Tokyo, London, Sydney, Rome and Singapore. Seoul introduced the first LPI hybrid taxi in December 2009. The internal combustion engine runs on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as a fuel.
||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (December 2011)|
Support of deregulation
Supporters of taxicab deregulation may argue that deregulation causes the following benefits:
- lower prices, because more taxis are competing on the market;
- lower operating costs, incentivized by the competition;
- the competition adds quality and the pressure to enhance one's reputation;
- new innovations such as shared-ride markets and special services for the disabled, new market niches;
- the demand for taxi services increases, as the prices fall and the quality improves.
However, there appears to be a consensus that taxi deregulation has been less impressive than advocates had hoped. Possible reasons include overestimation of what deregulation could deliver and insufficiently thorough deregulation
Deregulation advocates may claim that the taxi service level increases most in the poorest sections of the city. The effect is highest in peak hours and bad weather, when the demand is highest.
Deregulation advocates also may claim that, in a deregulated environment:
- black market taxis become legal, possibly eliminating their problems,
- cities save money, as they do not have to plan and enforce regulation.
In nearly all deregulating cities the number of taxis increased, more people were employed as drivers, and deregulation advocates claim needs were better satisfied.
Existing taxi companies may try to limit competition by potential new entrants. For example, in New York City the monopoly advantage for taxi license holders was $590 million in the early 1980s. The city has 1400 fewer licenses than in 1937. Proponents of deregulation argue that the main losers are the car-less poor and the disabled. Taxi owners form a strong lobby network that marginalizes drivers and taxi users. It also pays local government officials to uphold taxi regulation. The regulators usually do not wish to rise against the taxi-owner lobby. The politicians do not want taxi drivers to have a negative opinion of them.
Taxi deregulation proponents claims that immigrants and other poor minorities suffer most from taxi regulation, because the work requires relatively little education. Regulation makes entrance to the taxi business particularly difficult for them. The elderly, disabled, housewives and poor use taxis more often than others.
According to Moore and Rose, it is better to address potential problems of deregulation directly instead of regulating the number of taxi licences. For example, if the regulators want to increase safety, they should make safety statutes or publish a public list of safe taxi operators.
Also, proponents of deregulation claim that if officials want to regulate prices they should standardize the measures rather than command prices. For example, they may require that any distance tariffs are set for the first 1/5 miles and then for every subsequent 1/3 miles, to make it easier to compare the prices of different taxis. They should not prohibit other pricing than distance pricing. Deregulation advocates claim that regulators only have a very limited information on the market. 
Airport taxis as a special case
Some deregulation proponents are less opposed to airport taxi regulation than to regulation of other taxi services. They argue that if an airport regulates prices for taxis in its taxi queues, such regulation has fewer disadvantages than city-wide regulation. An airport may determine prices or organize different queues for taxi services of different qualities and prices. It can be argued whether rules set by the owner of an airport are regulation or just a business model.
Partial deregulation as a failure
Proponents of deregulation argue that partial deregulation is the cause of many cases of deregulation failing to achieve desirable results in United States cities. Many U.S. cities retained regulations on prices and services while allowing for free entrance to taxi business. Deregulation advocates argue that this prevented market mechanisms from solving information problems because new entrants have found it difficult to win new customers using new services or cheap prices. Also, ride-sharing has often been prohibited.
Often officials have also prohibited pricing that would have made short rides in sparsely populated areas profitable. Thus drivers have refused to take such customers. Therefore, partial deregulation is not always enough to enhance the situation. In one study claims that deregulation was applied to a too small area.
In the taxi regulation report by U.S. FTC it was concluded that there are not grounds for limiting the number of taxi companies and cars. These limitations cause a disproportionate burden on low income people. It is better to increase the pay for unprofitable areas than to force the taxis to serve these areas.
According to the report, the experience on free entry and price competition are mainly positive: prices have fallen, waiting times were shortened, the market shares of the biggest companies have fallen, and city councils have saved time from licensing and fare setting. However, the airports should either set their own price ceilings or allow for price competition by altering the queue system.
Opposition to deregulation
Opponents of taxi deregulation argue that deregulation will result in price increases as more taxis have to compete for the same number of riders (and thus must increase prices to continue to operate), high taxi driver turnover rates which may cause the number of less-qualified taxi drivers to increase, dishonest business practices such as price gouging (especially on airport routes) and circuitous routing, and poor customer service.
A Connecticut General Assembly report argues that deregulation fails to cause price decreases because taxi passengers typically do not price comparison shop when searching for taxicabs, and that fares usually increased with deregulation because the higher supply of taxis caused drivers’ earning potential to decrease. This report claims that deregulation resulted in dramatically increased taxi supply, especially at already overserved airport locations, fare increases in every city, and an increase in short-trip refusals by taxicab drivers.
This report argues that deregulation has led to undesirable results in several American cities. Seattle deregulated taxis in 1980, resulting in a high supply of taxicabs, variable rates, price gouging, short-haul refusals, poor treatment of passengers. As a result, Seattle re-regulated in 1984, reinstating a restriction on taxicab licenses and fare controls. In St. Louis, deregulation produced a 35% rise in taxi fares, and taxicab drivers complained of waiting hours at airports for customers at taxicab stands. Taxicab companies claimed they increased fares in order to make up for lost competition resulting from the increased supply of taxis. As a result, the St. Louis City Council froze new taxicab licenses in 2002.
A study of the deregulation of taxis in Sweden in 1991 showed that the taxicab supply increased, but average fares also increased in almost all cases. Specifically, average fares per hour increased for all trips. Average fares also increased for fares calculated by distance (per kilometer) in almost every category studied - for all customer-paid trips in municipalities of all 3 sizes (small, medium, and large) and increased for municipality-paid trips in small and large municipalities; fares only decreased for municipality-paid trips in medium-sized municipalities that were calculated per kilometer. Deregulation also resulted in decreased taxicab productivity and decreased taxi-company revenues. This study concluded that deregulation resulted in increased fares especially in rural areas and the authors argued that the increased fares were due to low taxi company revenues after deregulation.
Black market taxis often have problems with safety, poor customer service, and fares. This situation is made worse because customer who patronize such taxis cannot complain to the police or media. However, proponent of taxi deregulation argue that when these illegal taxis become legalized, their behavior will improve and complaints to officials about these formerly illegal taxis would be allowed.
Taxi companies claim that deregulation may lead to an unstable taxi market. However, one pro-deregulation study by Kitch, Isaacson and Kasper claims that the previous argument is a myth because it ignores the U.S. free taxi competition up to 1929.
Taxi companies claim that deregulation would cause problems, raise prices and lower service level on certain hours or in certain places.
The medallion system has been defended by some experts. They argue that the medallion system is similar to a brand-name capital asset and enforces quality of service because quality service results in higher ridership, thus increasing the value of owning the medallion. They argue that issuing new medallions would decrease the medallion value and thus the incentive for the medallion owner to provide quality service or comply with city regulations. They also argue that the medallion may be preferable to alternate systems of regulation (such as fines, required bonds with seizures of interest payments on those bonds for violations, or licensing of all would-be taxis with revocation of that license for violations) because fines are difficult to collect, license revocation may not be a sufficient deterrent for profitable violations such as price cheating, and because using penalties on bond interest payments give regulators an incentive to impose penalties to collect revenue (rather than for legitimate violations). Medallions do not earn interest and thus inappropriate seizures of interest by regulators is not possible.
Results of deregulation in specific localities
The results of taxi deregulation in specific cities has varied widely.
A study of taxi deregulation in nine United States cities found that the number of taxi firms increased, but large incumbent firms continued to dominate all but one of the nine cities. The taxi prices did not fall in real terms, but increased in every city studied. Turnover was concentrated among small operators (usually one-cab operators); little turnover occurred among medium and large new firms and no exit by a large incumbent firm occurred since deregulation. Productivity decreased by at least one-third in all four cities for which sufficient data was obtainable; the authors argued that decreases of this magnitude in productivity have serious economic consequences for taxi drivers, by shifting the industry from employee drivers to lease drivers and causing the average taxi driver to earn a lower income. Innovation in service did not occur in the deregulated cities because such innovations (especially shared-ride service) were doubted by taxi operators to be justified by demand and because the operators viewed that they would cause a net decrease in revenue. Discounts were offered in certain deregulated cities; however, these discounts were small (10% typically) and were also offered in some regulated cities. The study found a lack of service innovation and little change in level of service despite the increased number of taxicabs.
In Japan, taxi deregulation resulted in modest decreases in taxi fares (primarily among long distance trips); however, Japanese taxi fares are still very high (still the highest in the world). Also, taxi driver incomes decreased, and the earnings of taxi companies also decreased substantially. Deregulation failed to increase taxicab ridership enough to compensate taxi companies for those losses. The burden of deregulation fell disproportionately on taxi drivers because taxi companies increased the number of taxis rented to drivers (to make more money from rental fees), which resulted in stiff competition among drivers, decreasing their earnings. Transportation professor Seiji Abe of Kansai University considered deregulation to be a failure in the Japanese taxi industry (despite what he considers success in other Japanese industries).
In the Netherlands, taxi deregulation in 2000 failed to reach policy objectives of strengthening the role of the taxi in the overall Dutch transport system. Instead, the deregulation resulted in unanticipated fare increases (not decreases) in large cities, and bad driver behavior became a serious problem. Local authorities had lost their say in the market due to the deregulation, and thus were unable to correct these problems.
In South Africa, taxi deregulation has resulted in the emergence of taxi cartels which carry out acts of gun violence against rival cartels in attempts to monopolize desirable routes. In South Africa, taxis were deregulated in 1987, resulting in fierce competition among new drivers, who then organized into rival cartels in the absence of government regulation, and which used violence and gangland tactics to protect and expand their territories. These "taxi wars" have resulted in between 120-330 deaths annually since deregulation. These taxi cartels have engaged in anticompetitive price-fixing.
In Ireland, taxi deregulation decreased waiting times so much that the liberalization became very popular among the public.[dubious ] The number of companies was increased and the quality of cars and drives did not fall.[dubious ] Some have argued that the regulation should be completely abolished, not just cut down. Ireland taxi industry after de-regulation is examined by irelands national broadcaster RTE researchers should watch http://www.rte.ie/news/av/2011/0516/media-2959607.html
International Trade Association
Established in 1917, the Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association (TLPA) is a non-profit trade association of and for the private passenger transportation industry. The membership spans the globe to include 1,100 taxicab companies, executive sedan and limousine services, airport shuttle fleets, non-emergency medical transportation companies, and paratransit services.
In April 2011, TLPA announced their nationwide "Transportation on Patrol" initiative. The TOP program gives local police departments the materials they need to train volunteer taxi drivers to be good witnesses and watch out for criminal behavior.
Current taxi industry inquiries
|This article is outdated. (August 2012)|
A major Taxi Industry Inquiry is currently being conducted in the State of Victoria, Australia by the Taxi Services Commission. The Inquiry is headed by Professor Allan Fels, the former head of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. Professor Fels is being assisted by Dr David Cousins AM.
The key issues with the Victorian taxi industry listed by the Premier of Victoria, Ted Baillieu, when he announced the inquiry were: low customer satisfaction, with a sharp decline over the past six years; safety and security for passengers and drivers; insufficient support for drivers; too many poorly skilled drivers with inadequate knowledge; a high turnover of drivers resulting in a shortage of experienced drivers; complex ownership and management structures; lack of competition; too much of the industry revenue not being directed to the service providers – the drivers and operators.
The Inquiry is due to issue a final report in mid-2012.
Minister Alan Kelly held a review of Ireland's taxi industry after Ireland's national broadcaster RTE broadcast an investigation into the taxi industry 10 years after de-regulation http://www.rte.ie/news/av/2011/0516/media-2959607.html the results of his review can be researched via http://www.nationaltransport.ie/news/government-report-on-taxi-regulation-review/
Taxicab drivers are at risk for homicide at a far higher rate than the general working population in the United States (7.4 per 100,000 and 0.37 per 100,000, respectively). In efforts to reduce homicides, bulletproof partitions were introduced in many taxicabs in the 1990s, and in the 21st century, security cameras were added to many taxicabs. Security cameras have been shown to be more effective when implemented by cities and not taxicab companies.
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