The London Cab, or “Hackney Carriage”

The famous London taxi, known officially as the Hackney Carriage, is a very popular vehicle in many British cities. If you were to hail a taxi, there’s a good chance that it will be one of the iconic black cabs. The Hackney Carriage first appeared in the 17th century in London to fight transportation problems. Originally, they were just horse-drawn carriages but in 1900s, the internal combustion engine was discovered and gave the birth to the iconic cab. In this post we’ll look at the ins and outs of the famous black cab.


People Love the Hackney Carriage Because of it’s…

One of the reasons why hackney carriages have managed to stand the test of time and remain so popular after so many years is because of their agility. These cabs are even sometimes used by politicians and celebrities. They are able to weave in as well as out of bus lanes and can maneuver in tight corners like any other vehicle. Also, the drivers are very knowledgeable and know every nook and cranny of London. They are a delightful transport mode for moving through the streets of London.

Hiring a private taxi operator to come and pick you at a certain location and time requires you to have planned in advance. But the great thing with London is that you do not necessarily have to plan ahead. You only need to look out for a black cab that has light on top of it with the word TAXI emblazoned on it. To know that the taxi is occupied or if the driver is unavailable, you will see the light on. Just watch out for the taxi and then stick out your arm. It will pull up in a safe place near you. Make sure that the place you stand at is somewhere sensible to allow the taxi to stop.

Unrivaled Convenience
When it comes to convenience, nothing beats black cabs. You just need to stop by the roadside, wave one down and simply hope in. Hackney carriage drivers are very knowledgeable about London routes, and they will take you to whatever destination in as short time as possible. When there is traffic, they will use the back routes or back lanes so you don’t have to spend time on traffic jam.

Tourism attraction
Another thing about hackney carriages is the fact that they themselves are a great tourist attraction. While nobody visits London just to have a sight of these, they are still greatly explored by tourists. They are among the most widely used transport modes for tourists, especially those who feel that the trains and tubes are a bit confusing. Black cabs are certainly one of the most important features of London.

Critics of this antiquated mode of transport complain about…

Not nearly as prevalent as in Thailand, the cab drivers of  London do tend to exploit the fact that they are operating in one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. For that reason, they tend to charge quite over the top. Price varies according to the day as well as the time of travel. The least fares start at £2.40. The maximum amount of money that can be charged by the driver is indicated on the meter. If you don’t know and you don’t bargain, you could very well pay the highest fare price.

Bad for the Environment
Although it is a good thing that there are a lot of black cabs on the road, it is not entirely a good thing for the environment. These cabs produce lots of carbon footprint in the atmosphere each year and this results to degradation of environment.

Majority of black cabs were last updated in the 1990s which means that they are using an outdated technology. Hackney carriages contribute 25% of all airborne pollutants in the center of London. There are plans to introduce electric black cabs in London by the year 2020 and if this comes to pass, the amount of carbon footprint will be reduced. Also, there are plans to get off oldest hackney carriages off the road by denying licenses for any black taxi cabs that are older than 15 years.

Rigorous Training
For one to become a driver of black cabs, they need to be trained extensively. For starters, they have to master the more than 25,000 London routes. It is often referred to as The Knowledge and one must pass it to be pronounced proficient enough to drive through the streets of London. It is one of the most difficult tests tom pass in the world. Apart from learning 25,000 roads by heart, the taxi drivers also have to learn the more than 320 basic routes as well as 20,000 landmarks or points of interests.

Depending on the time and the effort that you put in, you may have to spend between 2 and 4 years to fully master The Knowledge. Examination is composed of basic written test as well as interviews which are called appearances. In these interviews, you will be given a start as well as the finish point and be required to describe the nearest route to the place. As well as these tests, it is also important that drivers take separate tests for taxi driving.

Hackney carriages are a popular means of transport in London. They are in fact a key feature of London and even act as a tourist attraction. They are convenient and you don’t have to book in advance. All you need to is to hail one and it will stop and then you hop in. the drivers are highly knowledgeable about the London routes. This is because knowledge about routes is an important part of assessing the drivers before they are licensed to drive through the streets of London.

However, just like any other thing, there is a bad side of these iconic transport vehicles. There are too many of them within central London, something that contributes to emission of greenhouse gases. This depletes the ozone layer. Another disadvantage is the rigorous training involved to become a driver. One has to master nearly 25,000 routes by heart and also has to learn about the major landmarks or important areas in London. But in general, hackney carriages play a very important role in the transportation within London.