It’s hard to think of New York City without picturing a river of yellow taxicabs puttering through Manhattan traffic. Just as the bright, sunny hue is synonymous with American cabs, the London transportation scene has an iconic color of its own. Aside from having an appreciation for taxicab etiquette in London, it’s important to understand their history and why they are still so important today.
The Hackney Carriage
The term “Hackney” comes from the French word “hacquenee” which means a type of horse suitable for hire. In 1908, the first motorized cabs were introduced to London and by the 1920s they had become more popular than Hansom Cabs (a two-wheeled horse-drawn carriage).
Prospective taxicab drivers must be able to retain a considerable amount of information in order to obtain a London taxicab license. The driver must take an exam known as “the Knowledge” that tests him/her on 25,000 streets, 20,000 landmarks, and popular restaurants, hotels, and pubs throughout London.
Trained in Turns
To accommodate the small roundabout outside of the Savoy, one of London’s most luxurious hotels, the average taxicab has a turn radius of just 25 feet. The Savoy is the only place in London where drivers are instructed to drive on the right side so that the patron can exit the car facing the hotel.
As the taxi trade looks for ways to increase profit yet decrease its environmental impact, the transportation industry is placing more emphasis on clean fuel. Starting in January of 2018, all new taxis will have to be battery powered electric models. Transport for London has approved a $23 million upgrade of the city’s power grid to charge new vehicles.
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