Black cabs in London are one of the city’s most identifiable symbols, and they can be seen rushing through the streets daily. A London taxi, like the yellow cab in the United States, is culturally significant. However, what makes the black cab so significant? Consider the following ten fascinating facts and figures about this iteration of London transit.
Perhaps the most crucial element of being a London taxi driver is “The Knowledge.” This is a test that all taxi drivers must pass to receive a license. Drivers must be interested in obtaining a practical knowledge of London’s 320 routes within a six-mile radius of Charing Cross, which encompasses 25,000 streets and 20,000 monuments, study for 2-4 years. Green badges are awarded to passing motorists. Yellow badges are restricted to a smaller, suburban area of London and do not enable drivers access to the exact locations as green badge cars.
Taxicab licenses were initially issued in 1639 to the Corporation of Coachmen. In 1662, Hackneys and Hansom Cabs were licensed horse-drawn vehicles. By the 1920s, motorized cabs had superseded hansom cabs as the primary taxi vehicle in London.
Taxis must be tall enough to accommodate a passenger wearing a bowler hat properly. Furthermore, hackney carriages were required to convey a horse’s hay bale. This law was in existence for a period after a Heathrow taxi ride was available.
Tight Turns Are Required
A black cab’s turning radius is less than 25 feet. This is ostensible to accommodate the Savoy Hotel’s little roundabout. This turning radius became a regulatory requirement for all London cabs in the 1970s. Additionally, Savoy Court is one of the few areas in London where cars drive on the right, and customers sit behind the driver and exit the cab facing the hotel.
It is technically prohibited to cry “Taxi!” Simply extend your arm to indicate a cab if you notice one with a lit sign. Fortunately, you can use this app which allows you to hire a cab through your smartphone.
Origins of The Term “Taxi”
The term “taxi” originates with the taximeter, a device that is used to calculate mileage and fee. “Cab” was an abbreviation for “cabriolet,” a French word meaning “to leap,” referring to a type of taxi and the maneuver required to exit one.
Additionally, hailing a cab when infected with the bubonic plague was purportedly illegal. This is still partially true, as the Public Health (Control of Sickness) Act of 1984 requires anyone suffering from a notifiable sickness to tell the cab driver, who can then decide whether to convey the passenger or not. If he accepts another fare, he must notify the authorities and clean the vehicle.
London’s famous black taxi cab is well-known across the world, and visitors to the city must take a ride in one. It is recognized for its dependability and safety, and its drivers are renowned for their ability to traverse London’s maze-like back streets and thoroughfares without missing a beat.