11 Jul, 2016

Taxi cabs have been in existence for about three centuries now. Today, there are different kinds of taxis ranging from horse drawn tourist attractions, to the classic yellow taxi cab, to luxury limos or sedans. Despite modern advances, taxis still have the same basic function today as they did hundreds of years ago: to facilitate the movement of people from one location to another. Taxicab has a long and varied history, some of which is almost hard to believe today. In ancient times, people used to carry the nobility or royalty in compartments on their backs and transport them from one place to another.

In the early 17th century, both Paris and London saw the beginning of services of horse-drawn for-hire hackney carriage. Royal proclamations controlled the number of those carriages in both cities, and this marked the first regulation of taxis. After these carriages, hansom cabs were invented. They had better speed and improved safety. As a result, people preferred using them, and hansom cabs exploded in popularity.

Daimler Victoria, the modern taxicab equipped with meter, was built in 1897 by Gottlieb Daimler. In the same year, the first motorized taxi company came into operation in Stuttgart. In 1899, Taxicabs powered by gas became operational in Paris. In 1907, a businessperson by the name Harry N. Allen imported the gas powered taxicabs from France to New York. He was the first person to paint his taxi yellow, after realizing that the yellow color is easy to recognize even from a distance.

In 20th century, taxicabs grew rapidly in number around the world. After inventing the taximeter (which gave the iconic vehicles their name), the next major invention was that of two-way radios that took place in the late 1940s. Radios made it possible for taxicabs and dispatch offices to communicate and deliver more efficient services to customers than previous techniques such as the use of call boxes. Another major invention took place in the 1980s, when computer-assisted dispatching was invented.

While it may not be a necessity in other industries, regulation is highly beneficial in the taxicab industry. History has proven that a taxi industry that is not regulated is not only harmful to consumers but also to drivers and operating companies.

During the Great Depression, there were not enough stable jobs, and people grabbed the opportunity to drive unlicensed taxicabs. Results? There were increased accident rates, high level of congestion on the roads and poor insurance coverage. The harmful consequences of deregulation of taxicabs necessitated the American cities to enact laws to address liability, safety and right issues of driver. Today, some ridesharing apps seek to
get around regulations that were put in place to protect everyone, and we see some of the same struggles repeating themselves.

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