The Taxicab: An Urban Transportation Survivor

The Taxicab: An Urban Transportation Survivor

The Taxicab: An Urban Transportation Survivor

The Taxicab: An Urban Transportation Survivor


The authors trace the evolution of the taxi from the early horse-drawn European vehicles to the futuristic paratransit" vehicles of today, relating the development of mass transit to the taxi and showing how both forms of transportation changed in response to alterations in city and urban life. They discuss the economics, innovative services, and future of the taxi and maintain that this service has the potential to alleviate some of the current problems of urban transportation."

Originally published in 1982.


Few industries in the United States are as poorly understood as is the taxicab industry. To many people taxicabs conjure up images of vices ranging from prostitution to illicit liquor; taxi drivers are viewed with suspicion; and driving a taxi is considered a job of last resort. the public knows little about how taxi firms are organized; for example, many persons think of Yellow Cab as a giant conglomerate that serves many cities.

These public images have one thing in common: they are all partially or entirely false. With few exceptions, taxi drivers are law- abiding citizens. Many have made their occupation a career, and a number have sent their children through college on their taxi earnings. a large percentage of taxi drivers are not employees but independent entrepreneurs who own or lease their vehicles. Taxis transport packages, supplies--such as blood--to hospitals, clients of human service agencies, elderly and handicapped persons, and children with special needs, and perform many other services requiring skilled and considerate care. And, of course, Yellow Cab is not a national corporation.

Yet the false images persist and are in large part responsible for many of the regulations imposed upon the taxi industry. Most cities require extensive data on would-be taxi drivers, including fingerprints, blood tests, and criminal record checks. in fact, taxi drivers-- unlike bus drivers--are usually licensed by local police departments. Taxi operators are often restricted from transporting more than one party at one time, required to use taximeters to prevent them from cheating customers, and sometimes made to post signs in each vehicle . . .

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