Why are taxis also called taxis?
London: Black, Mini and Karmacabs
There are three ways to take a taxi in London. The classic variant are the "Black Cabs". Despite their name, however, they are no longer exclusively black. The "Cabs" are now also available in other colors.
With their round, old-fashioned shape and the large interior, they not only inspire tourists. Locals also like to take a "Black Cab". However, it is not cheap. The "minicabs" are cheaper. You can negotiate a fixed price with their drivers before the tour.
For India lovers there is a third, rather exotic variant: the "Karma Kab". From the outside it looks like a normal cab, but inside another world opens up. Indian incense sticks, beaded candlesticks and a sky set with mother-of-pearl. Indian meditation music is also playing. In short: Driving "Karma Kab" is pure relaxation for those who like it.
São Paulo: The taxi of the skies
There are many big cities in the world. São Paulo, however, is a city of superlatives. In the metropolitan area of the Brazilian metropolis, it is estimated that more than 20 million people live in an area of 8,000 square kilometers. So it's no wonder that traffic regularly collapses.
Transport experts have calculated that on average, each resident spends almost three hours a day in traffic jams. That doesn't have to be the case, thought resourceful pilots as early as 1946 and founded a helicopter taxi service. Even then there were wealthy customers for whom time was more important than money. Because a flight by helicopter is of course many times more expensive than the variant on four wheels.
Business with flying taxis has been booming since the mid-1990s. There are now many shopping centers, residential complexes and companies that have set up landing areas on their roofs in order to enable their customers to travel stress-free.
The tour high above the city has another advantage. Customers feel safe here, because violent crimes such as assaults and kidnappings are the order of the day on the streets of the Brazilian metropolis.
By the way: São Paulo is not the only city with flying taxis. There is also a helicopter service in Tokyo and New York for anyone who can afford it.
New York: $ 300,000 for the license to drive
It is made of aluminum and is attached to the hood of the taxis. Anyone who has the coveted badge, which taxi drivers only call a "medallion", is one of the lucky ones with their own taxi license. The aluminum discs are getting more expensive every year - prices over 300,000 dollars are not uncommon.
By 1937 the licenses were still being sold for ten dollars. If you have your own badge, you save the daily rental costs for the car. An entire industry takes care of the financing of taxi licenses. The so-called "taxi brokers" help the candidates to track down new sources of money.
New Yorkers have a kind of love-hate relationship with their taxi drivers, say connoisseurs. The traffic chaos, the associated driving style and the constant honking of the horn drive many customers to despair. There is also a communication problem, because more than 85 percent of taxi drivers were born abroad and speak poor English.
But nobody wants to do without the "Yellow Cabs", as they are called here. And that has it's reason. A majority of New Yorkers do not have their own car and are therefore dependent on the yellow cars.
Africa: With the shared taxi on the gravel road
The African taxis are mini buses. There are also mid-range cars that are used as taxis, but the streetscape is dominated by the so-called shared taxis. These "pick-ups" or minibuses drive within the cities, but also for longer distances across the country. Not an easy undertaking, because tarred roads are a rarity in many regions of Africa.
The shared taxis are available in very different designs. Some are closed, while others take passengers on the open loading area. Up to 20 people can be transported at the same time. The taxis stop at designated collection points, which are often on the outskirts on a major arterial road.
Basically: The driver only drives off when his taxi is fully occupied. If it doesn't fill up, the route is changed at short notice. Then the customers have to wait for the next shared taxi. However, this type of locomotion also has its downsides. Every year several hundred shared taxis crash in Africa because they are not roadworthy.
Asia: getting around on two wheels
It is a typical Asian means of locomotion and transport: the rickshaw. In Bangladesh, Indonesia, India or China, the two-wheeled vehicle that is pulled or driven by people is part of the street scene.
In Asia, an entire industry thrives on rickshaws. There are, for example, the rickshaw builders and the dealers who supply the chauffeurs with groceries on the way.
In many Asian cities, the rickshaw drivers make their living from the tourists who let them drive them around. But jute bales, sugar cane sticks and vegetable baskets have also been transported by rickshaw since the mid-19th century. In some cities it even replaces the school bus. Nevertheless, the rickshaw is no longer wanted everywhere, because for many it is a symbol of underdevelopment.
Environmentalists, on the other hand, are fighting for this type of transportation that neither uses gas nor pollutes the air. Interesting development in recent times: In many European cities one sees more and more often a modification of the rickshaw, the so-called Velo or bicycle taxi.
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