A Quick Look at How Taxis Evolved Through Time, From Ancient Rome to Uber

Taxis Through Time 1 photo
If you thought that the principle of carrying people around for money is a rather new one, you might have a revelation in the following lines. The guys from decided to put together a graph that shows how the concept of Taxi evolved through the years, focusing on their home grounds and London in particular.
It all starts back in Ancient Rome, a day and age that fascinated this one editor for quite some time. Back then slavery was very much alive and rich people used the unlucky to travel without having to use their legs. This was done using what was known as a Lectica that was basically a chair on posts that was carried around by slaves. Since it was free for the prospective owner back then, they were quite familiar.

Then came the hacquenee in the Middle Ages. It was a different concept as in you were basically renting out a horse that was bred specifically for such purposes. It was later replaced by the Hackney Carriage in the 1500s, that was first introduced by the Dutch and then made famous by Elizabeth I.

This was a carriage for hire used by lords, royals, ladies and other people. The trouble with it was that it was seen as effeminate and a lot of people avoided using them for this reason.

As time went by, the 1600s and 1700s were dominated by alternatives to this, like the Merchant Carriage or the Hackney Hell Cart, both of them using the same principle of transporting people with a sort of carriage.

In the late 1700s, the Lectica of Ancient Rome made a kind of comeback in the shape of the Sedan Chair. It was a cabin with poles on the sides that was carried around town by those that were unfortunate enough to resort to this sort of thing to get by.

In the early 1800s the Hansom Cab showed up and it was called that because it had just two wheels, a driver on the roof and even a meter that told you exactly how much you had to pay. It was rather affordable too, with the authorities deciding how much the fare should cost.

As the century was turning, the Hummingbird showed up and it was the first motorized taxi to come. The cool thing about it was its power source, coming from batteries, this was a sort of electric vehicle back in 1898. They were omnipresent in London for example and the sound they made while going around gave them their nicknames.

Then petrol-powered cars came along in 1903 and they soon took over from any other form of getting around. In 1939, the Austin 12 was launched in London and, despite being planned to be used as a Taxi, the World War II breaking out, put that on the afterburners. What that meant was that they were adapted to be used by firemen to save lives instead.

1958 rolled in with the Austin FX4 that would give the world the famous shape of the London cabs we have even today. The Black Cabs as we know them today are using the same design as the Austin, which was in production for 39 years.

In 1987 the MCW Metrocab came around but failed at overshadowing the Black Cab which, in turn, made a comeback in 2012 with the same familiar design, tweaked to adapt to the times and a new powertrain. We’re talking about the HyTEC Black Cab, of course, powered by hydrogen, the next step in durable transportation.

Lastly, we have to mention all of the cars in London. They now have the potential to become taxis thanks to Uber, the app that allows regular people to carry other people around town with their personal rides, in exchange for money. Funny how things turned out, huh?
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