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Who Invented Taxis? Everything You Need to Know


Depending on where you live, the word ‘taxi’ will summon different connotations. By way of example, a New Yorker would associate the word ‘taxi’ with the iconic yellow Jada 1957 Chevrolet or 2003 Ford Crown Victoria. A Londoner, on the other hand, would only ever think of the traditional Austin FX4 black cab. Whilst these are both well-known iterations of the taxi, the history of taxis begins in the historic capital of France.

When was the taxi invented?

It was 1640 when Nicolas Sauvage first offered horse-drawn carriages and drivers in Paris for hire. Not long after this, the Hackney Carriage Act was passed in London, becoming the first legislation to control horse-drawn carriages for hire in England. From here, horse-drawn carriages that were available to hire became an extremely popular choice of transport, creating a demand that meant innovators had to evolve their design.

In 1834, a York architect known as Joseph Hansom worked to combine speed with safety to develop the new age of horse-drawn taxis. Eventually, he invented Hansom cabs which were light, pulled by a single horse, and had the ability to track the cost of the taxi fare via a mechanical taximeter.

Who invented the first motorised taxi?

German engineer, Gottlieb Daimler, invented the first motorised taxi in 1897. His design ultimately paved the way for the taxis we use and know of today. Named the ‘Daimler Victoria’, this model of taxi featured a two-cylinder gasoline engine rated at six horsepower.

By evolving the vehicle hire to be motorised as opposed to horse-drawn, the expectations for more speed and agility from taxi vehicles was surpassed with this design.

When did taxis become a popular choice of transport?

For the UK, black cabs became a classic part of London’s culture as a result of the cameos they made in the likes of James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, and Doctor Who. Firmly entrenched in British culture, international tourists often expect to be greeted by a black cab on arrival and for it to be the last thing they see upon departure. In the event that this doesn’t happen, many tourists will actively seek out a black cab to enjoy a quintessentially British experience.

Black cabs are also popular with those residing in London. They’re readily available, comfortable as a result of their spacious design, and the drivers tend to be more qualified as a result of learning and passing “the Knowledge”, a tough test on the routes around the capital. Whilst their taxi fares tend to be pricier, the quality is often a winning factor for residents who regularly use taxis as a form of transport.

Are taxis regulated in the UK?

Yes, taxis and private vehicle hire services in the United Kingdom are regulated by the local authority. More specifically:

  • Taxis are required to be painted another colour in many places. E.g. yellow in Derby, silver in Portsmouth, and blue in Bristol.
  • Private hire vehicles must be pre-booked, and the rates are set by the private hire operator.
  • Hackney carriages can only pick up fares off the streets in which they’re licensed for.
  • The legal way for a driver to approach customers from outside their area is to obtain multiple licenses in each of the license authority areas.

So, the history of taxis and private hire vehicles is rich and heavily embedded into the cultures of many countries around the world through film and television. Furthermore, taxis and private hire vehicles continue to evolve in order to keep up with the demand for eco-friendly automobiles.

If you’re looking to book a taxi in Norfolk or a private hire vehicle for your next getaway, contact us on 01692 434007 today.

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