Hailing Through Time: A History of Taxis

We love driving. And something tells us that you love driving too. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some times when spreading out in the backseat is exactly what we want to do. When we let a professional take the wheel, it’s usually in a taxi. Here’s a look back on this enduring form of public transportation – from hacks to hails and everything in between.

Horse Power

Before motorized taxis arrived on the road, drivers relied on genuine horse power. Hackney carriages transported people in major world cities beginning in the early 1600s. But the wild days where anyone could drive didn’t last for long. The introduction of licenses attempted to curtail this unregulated mess. These “vehicles” underwent a major change in the 19th century with the introduction of the sleeker, faster hansom cab. Unlike the four-wheeled hackney, hansom cabs had 2 wheels and could be pulled by just one horse. For the public, the result was a less expensive and quicker trip.

Modern Cabs

Electric cabs date to 1897. The term “taxi” comes from a taximeter, which calculates fares. Similar to school buses, many cities opted for yellow as the definitive taxi color to increase their visibility. This practice of making cabs easier to recognize dates back over 100 years. As for safety, some people still ignore seatbelts while riding inside taxis. Despite laws that exempt passengers from wearing them in many metropolitan areas, we recommend always buckling up.

Future of Cabs

Today, there are still many different types of cabs. In New York City alone, you can hail the famous yellow taxi (though its classic checker is no more), or if you’re an animal lover, hop into a hansom cab for a usually romantic lap around Central Park. But if neither interest you – worry not. There’s more. Pedicabs and rickshaws, vehicles that rely on pure human-power, are also available. When you don’t want to walk and you don’t want to drive, taxis in every form have been our favorite choice. Like driving in general, the future of taxis may indeed be driverless. The biggest adjustment for passengers will be the drop off in traveling conversation.

Are you still a fan of taxis? More importantly, were you ever a fan of them? Share some thoughts on your predictions for the future in the comments.

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1 comment

  1. 1
    Graciela

    Today there are other forms of transportation based on the technology: the “rideshare” companies, like Uber and Lyft.
    These are more convenient in most cities, because you request the ride through your cellphone, and you get the closest driver, usually within 5 minutes. The fares are cheap than the traditional taxis and because everything is recorded and there are no cash involved, I think is more secure.

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