Preview Of The Taxi Experience Around The World
Let’s take a quick journey around the world, travelling only by local taxis. It is going to be an interesting ride, as every continent has its peculiarities when it comes to the cab industry. They range from unusual traditions and quotes, to varied types of vehicles.
The first visit will be to Africa. One interesting thing that can be found here is the so-called “taxi war”, because there is a dangerous battle between private hire companies and taxi associations. This often leads to victims and even deaths, especially in South Africa. The most common used car is a 16-Seater made by Toyota, but usually the drivers take more passengers, thus putting the clients’ safety in danger. Only rich people can afford to own a car and to avoid this means of transport that is involuntarily chosen by 14 million people on a daily basis.
In Botswana, officials are trying to introduce a regulation that should be followed by all taxi drivers, as they usually have little experience, do not respect traffic rules and mistreat their passengers. Unfortunately, it is a very difficult task, because the mafia alliances still rule the country. Thus clients are assaulted if they dare to complain about the quote or about the drop-off address. The taxi industry does not even exist in countries like The Democratic Republic of Congo. Its climate and economic situation prevents the making of roads or rails, navigable waterways being the most used means of transport, although their safety is very debatable.
For Egyptian drivers, this job often represents an extra income, as they are educated people that already have a full time profession. There are meters, but most seldom they do not work so the price for the journey is discussed directly with the client. Other used combinations are: navy blue and white, yellow and black. A similar situation can be found in Ghana, where there are no meters at all and the quote is bargained previous to the journey. This type of negotiation is actually used in other types of industries, as well.
An interesting situation takes place in Kenya, where bicycles are starting to be used more than gasoline based means of transport like taxis. Not only do they cost less, but they can be more easily controlled in traffic and they are helping the environment to regenerate. Thus, a new industry was born: boda bodas. These are bicycle taxis that can be rented by passengers. Many inhabitants started this type of business and are gaining a beautiful income. There are two main disadvantages though: there are many serious accidents produced by motorcycles. In addition to this, this means of transport discriminates the people that are too weak or not able to ride a bicycle, as it requires a great deal of effort for long distances.
Here are some of the quotes that can be paid for a taxi in Africa, for a 2 miles journey: $1.01 – $1.68 (Cairo, Egypt) and $5.75 – $7.90 (Cape Town, South Africa). These prices are from 2011 and have been converted in US dollars.
Let us move along to another continent to see what kind of interesting pieces of information we can find regarding the sophisticated industry of the taxi. You will discover great countries in Europe and their particular features regarding this conveyance.
The modern cab based on gasoline and endowed with a meter appeared for the first time in France. In the beginning, they were mainly used by soldiers, especially as a way of transport during the famous Battle of Marne. Even the famous New York City was buying taxis from the French in the 1900’s. Nowadays, their most representative model is the famous Peugeot 406. In Paris, in 2011, the quote was $8.70 – $14.49 per 3 miles.
The German cabs have had several colors throughout the years. Ranging from black to the contemporary pale yellow/beige, they differentiate from other European countries through the existence of an orange TAXI sign that lights up when the driver is not serving any other customer. The most used brand for taxis in Germany is Mercedes-Benz E-Class, as you can see in the picture.
In Norway, cabs can be recognized on the streets with the help of stickers that represent the hire private companies’ logos, as the legislation does not impose them to be painted in any particular color. Although they are called drosje, most Norwegian people use the word taxi. In spite of the fact that the drivers use meters, there are certain fixed quotes for journeys from town to the airport and from the airport back to the city.
Romanian taxis respect the New York City trend of using the yellow color for taxis. The exceptions can be found in Brasov and Arad, where the cabs are painted in white. Most of the time, the model is a Dacia Logan, a well-known national product. In Romania, the drivers use meters and charge a higher quote for journeys that take place during the night.
Russia is known for its gypsy-cabs. The quotes are mainly discussed with the clients, before getting up in the taxi, so there are no fixed prices per mile. The drivers usually run cabs in order to make an extra income, which is additional to their full time professions. In Moscow, as in Romania, there is the habit of taking passengers from the street in cars that are not cabs, but individual private property, as long as they are heading to a common destination. Although countries like Great Britain do not agree with this type of transport because of the possible dangers. There are indeed rare situations that involve victims or crimes.
Meters are used only in the largest cities of Spain ($6.52 – $10.14/3 miles), the agreed quote being a common practice in the small towns. An interesting thing is that every area has a certain type of color for its cabs: black and yellow doors in Barcelona, white with a yellow stripe in Seville, white and a red stripe in Bilbao, Madrid and Almeria are just some examples. The most used models that can be seen on the streets are Skoda Octavia and Seat Toledo.
In the United Kingdom, the industry is basically split in two important categories of means of transportation: the so-called black cabs and the private hire companies. The first ones are a symbol for the British people and they are preferred by citizens and visitors, although their quotes are very high ($11.48 – $14.75/3 miles) when compared to the individual employers that offer better prices. The only disadvantage of the latter is that the bookings have to be made in advance.
Now that we have travelled in Europe and Africa, let us move on to Asia and see if the taxi industry here is complex or not, if it brings any sort of profit and what car models can be found on the streets of countries like Japan, Vietnam and India.
China is reportedly known as a big web of taxis, even in very small villages. The difference is that in the cities the most used models are Volkswagen Jetta and Hyundai Elantra, while in the countryside, a cab is represented by a bike that has a carriage attached to it or by a motorcycle with an extension for passengers to sit on. The quotes are really low ($1.53 – $3.06/3 miles) and the drivers have the option to refuse to go to certain destinations.
In Hong Kong, the first type of taxi was the so-called sedan chair that had to have a license and had quotes that could be seen at all times by the clients. These could be found at all the major hotels and crossroads. In the middle of the 80’s, the rickshaws took over the taxi industry being faster and with prices that were discussed between the driver and the passenger. In 2006 both of them disappeared and modern taxis were introduced. Most of the time, they can be recognized by their red or green color although this is not a rule. The passengers are charged extra for their pieces of luggage and pets.
An interesting peculiarity that can be found in India is that the taxi drivers paint different phrases on their cars, like: God is Great. Most of the cabs lack the air conditioning systems. This disadvantage cannot be found when talking about the private hire companies. The most common color for the taxis is white, yet the easiest way to be recognized is by their yellow number plates. The law states that the drivers should own a meter, although usually it does not work and the price is bargained.
Indonesian cabs have been painted in yellow or medium blue metallic since the year 1970. The most used model nowadays is the Toyota Soluna that is reliable and makes economy when it comes to fuel. Executive cabs can be also seen, like Nissan Cedric and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Their color is usually black. The illegal taxis use white plates, while the others have yellow license number plates. Estimated quotes: $1.27 – $1.73 per 3 miles, in regions like Bali.
In Israel there is a common practice between the passengers. They have the habit of sharing a taxi. The cab industry is practically made up of two branches. The first one operates for Israelis and is represented by the white color. The second one is in the service of Arabs and is known for its orange painted cars. Meters are required, but the quotes are usually bargained ($4.39 – $8.77/3 miles) and the passenger has the right to accept or refuse the journey.
In Japan, each taxi company has the free will of choosing its representative models and colors for their cars. There is a difference when it comes to Executive cabs ($12.64 – $15.66/3 miles). These are usually black. The most common types are Nissan Cedric Y31 and Toyota Crown Sedan. The models are selected while taking into consideration a very important aspect for the Japanese people: automatic passenger doors that open at the push of a single button.
America & Australia
We are getting close to the end of this wonderful adventure. Now that you have travelled through Europe, Asia and Africa by interesting models of unique colored taxis, it is time to make a last trip to America and Australia. Let us see what enchanting surprises can you expect here.
Australian cabs developed from cars drawn by horses to motorized ones in only one century. From 1900 onwards, respecting the trend introduced by Europeans, Sydney was the first to initiate such a complex industry. The model was a Sedan and they used to import all the taxis from Europe until World War II began and companies like Ford and General Motors created their own headquarters in Australia. Nowadays, the most familiar models are Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore. The average quotes range between $9.47 – $12.63 (Melbourne) and $10.53 – $13.68 (Sydney) per 2 miles.
In Mexico City ($1.29 – $2.14/3 kilometers), you can recognize a cab by its red color and white roof. The industry is made up of two distinct categories, public taxicabs and private hire companies that have special law requirements and different car models. Nissan is the leading provider after the year 2000, a great change from the early green Volkswagen Beetles. However, it is a custom habit for taxi drivers to customize their personal cars, so diversification usually meets the eye, as you can see in the attached photo.
The same situation can be found throughout the United States of America and Canada, where this complex taxi industry presents the public transportation and the private cab businesses. Both of them are obliged to respects the CPNC (Certificate of Public Necessity and Convenience). The diversity of activities is what attracts large incomes and appreciation of business men. These can vary from school transportation to delivery services. The most known taxis are the yellow ones from New York that are somewhat equal to black London cabs when it comes to national symbols, appearing in the cinematographic industry as a representative of the “Big Apple”. There is a significant difference between the United States of America and Canada when it comes to fares. Examples per 2 miles in the year 2011: $5.73 – $8.33 (Vancouver, Canada), $7.00 – $12.00 (New York City, USA), $7.50 – $10.00 (Los Angeles, USA), $9.38 – $12.50 (Toronto, Canada), $9.38 – $12.50 (Montreal, Canada).
Venezuela taxis are either white or black, the last one being the color for luxurious Executive models. The interesting aspect is that meters are not required, so they do not exist. The quotes are always discussed with the driver before the pick-up. They have the habit of misleading the visitors, in order to get higher fares, and the complicated street system helps them, as there are no numbers for streets or houses.
It seems that we have reached the end of our tour. We hope that you have enjoyed this multicultural ride, as we tried to bring to your knowledge the most interesting facts about our nations worldwide. The taxi industry is still developing and its path has been determined by wars, economy, politics and most of all, the vision to change the world and make it a faster and safer place for visitors and inhabitants.
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