Category Archives: Taxis
Chances are you’ve never really given a great deal of thought to the UK’s taxi services – unless of course you’ve been caught in the rain or needed a ride to the airport recently. Aside from their basic day-to-day services, taxis and taxi firms are the kinds of things that tend to exist something in the background and rarely cross the minds of most.
However, if you were to learn one or two interesting facts about taxis, there’s a pretty good chance you’d spare more than a second thought for them next time you see a cab go speeding past. And of course, there’s nothing better than a few little-known facts about anything in the world to bore your mates with next time the mood takes you!
So with any of the above motivations in mind, here’s a quick look at some of the most interesting facts about taxi cabs and services you probably would never have guessed:
Taxis are not by law forced to give change.
Just to kick off on a pricey point, did you know that taxi drivers are not required by any UK law to give their customers change? Of course, you’ll want to leave a nice and generous tip anyway, but it’s something you might want to think about next time you’re heading 100 yards with only a fifty in your pocket!
A Man’s World?
Things are beginning to change, but at the last industry census it became clear that only 1% of all the taxi drivers in London are women. More are at last signing up to make a mark on the industry, but you still have just a one-in-100 chances of flagging down a cab in the capital with a female driver.
The hackney carriage gets its name for London’s original incarnation of a taxi, which as of 1946 was indeed pulled around by horsepower in the traditional sense.
Back in 1986, there were approximately 14,000 taxis serving the streets of London. By 1996, the number had exploded to 17,000 – an increase bigger than in any other decade.
Silence is Golden
Chances are you had no idea that shouting ‘Taxi’ at a black cab is actually illegal! It’s a time old law and there was a time when drivers were specifically instructed not to pick up anyone who shouted at the car on its way toward or past them, so be warned! Instead, the more ‘proper’ way of flagging down a taxi is to raise your arm as it approaches…in silence!
If you’re being ignored by all the cabs flying past you, there’s a pretty good chance it’s because you’re standing in a place that’s anything but sensible…take a look around!
The law states that all black cabs must have roofs that are high enough to suit a full-grown man wearing a bowler hat! Not that this is the kind of thing that anyone really check on these days, but did you ever wonder why the ceilings in black cabs are so high? Now you know!
New York State of Mind
Almost 250 million people use taxi cabs in New York every single year and the total fares paid go way beyond the billion dollar mark. What’s more, the average taxi driver will make at least 30 journeys on a standard 12-hour shift.
A taxi driver in New York is always busy!
There’s nothing to say that a black cab actually has to be black – it’s just a case of their owners following suit. There are plenty of blue, green, white and red hackney carriages doing the rounds, just not nearly as many as classic black ones.
An extraordinary array of items and objects have been left in the back of UK taxis over the years, though one of the most compelling of all was a full £20,000 in cash. And of course, it was all handed in – every penny of it – by the honest driver!
Which Way, Sir?
To qualify for a license to drive a taxi in London, you first have to take “The Knowledge” test. This is a way of testing the driver’s knowledge and understanding of not only the complex road network, but also the capital’s sights and landmarks. On the whole, it takes a full three years to get up to speed!
What’s In a Name?
And finally, the word ‘taxi’ itself actually comes from the taximeter, which was the name given to the original device used to measure the distance travelled in order to decide the fare. The first taximeter was in use as early as 1891 – the car itself is technically the ‘cab’.
An article by Chris Jenkinson in conjunction with http://www.camberleytaxis.com/.