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Taxi fares
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A 13-seater taxicab from eBustop.
A Comfort taxicab at Raffles Place.
A Comfort taxicab with the older livery,at Seah Street
Honda Airwave Prime taxi
SMRT taxi
Yellow-Top private taxi

Taxicabs are a popular form of public transport in the compact city state of Singapore, with fares considered relatively low compared to those in most cities in developed countries. There is a total fleet of 25,176 taxis operated by eight taxi companies and independent drivers in May 2010 , collectively completing 588,632 trips daily across the island in June 2005 .

Taxis may be flagged down at any time of the day along any public road outside of the Central Business District (CBD). Issues of high traffic and demand in certain locations and areas, particularly in the downtown area and other major buildings and establishments around the island, require the building of taxi stands. As taxis may conversely be harder to obtain in less densely populated areas, as well as to meet the needs of time-sensitive users, taxis may be booked via telephone or through the internet for a fee, which is then transmitted to individual taxis via a Global Positioning System or digital voice dispatch.

Stringent requirements ensure that all taxis are fitted with meters and are air-conditioned and serviceable. Drivers who fail to utilise their meters may be fined up to S$500, an enforced rule which brings fare disputes down to a minimum. About 90% of taxis have inbuilt AM radio communications.

A taxicab, also taxi or cab, is a type of vehicle for hire with a driver, used by a single passenger or small group of passengers, often for a non-shared ride. A taxicab conveys passengers between locations of their choice. In modes of public transport, the pick-up and drop-off locations are determined by the service provider, not by the passenger, although demand responsive transport and share taxis provide a hybrid bus/taxi mode.

There are four distinct forms of taxicab, which can be identified by slightly differing terms in different countries: hackney carriage, also known as public hire, hailed or street taxis, available for hire and reward and for hailing on street; private hire vehicles (PHVs), also known as minicabs (private hire vehicles in London are only available by pre-booking, not (legally) available for hailing on street; it is also illegal to pass off a private hire vehicle or minicab by calling it a taxi); taxibuses, also known as jitneys, operating on pre-set routes for hire and reward, typified by multiple stops and multiple independent passengers; and limousines, specialized vehicle licensed for operation by pre-booking.

Although types of vehicles and methods of regulation, hiring, dispatching, and negotiating payment differ significantly from country to country, many common characteristics exist

Several New York City taxicabs during Midtown rush hour in Manhattan


Taximeters existed in ancient Rome, where they employed a mechanism that used the turning of the cart’s axle to release small balls. At the end of the trip, the passenger paid based on the number of released balls. The modern taximeter was invented by German Wilhelm Bruhn in 1891, and the Daimler Victoria—the world’s first meter-equipped (and gasoline-powered) taxicab—was built by Gottlieb Daimler in 1897.

Taximeters were originally mechanical and mounted outside the cab, above the driver’s side front wheel. Meters were soon relocated inside the taxi, and in the 1980s electronic meters were introduced, doing away with the once-familiar ticking sound of the meter’s timing mechanism.

In some locations, taxicabs display a small illuminated sign indicating if they are vacant. In Argentina, this sign is called a "banderita" (little flag), a carryover term from the days of mechanical taximeters, in which a little flag was turned to wind up the mechanism. The flag would be hidden at the start of a trip and moved to the visible position at the end.

Horse-drawn for-hire hackney carriage services began operating in both Paris and London in the early 17th century. The first documented service was started by Nicolas Sauvage in Paris in 1640. His vehicles were known as fiacres, as the main vehicle depot apparently was opposite a shrine to Saint Fiacre. (The term fiacre is still used in French to describe a horse-drawn vehicle for hire, while the German term Fiaker is used, especially in Austria, to refer to the same thing). In London the Hackney Carriage Act (1635) became the first legislated control in English on vehicles for hire. In the 19th century, Hansom cabs largely replaced the older designs because of their improved speed and safety.

The first taxi service in Toronto, "The City", was established in 1837 by Thornton Blackburn, an ex-slave whose escape from Detroit was the impetus for the Blackburn Riot.

Although battery-powered vehicles enjoyed a brief success in Paris, London, and New York in the 1890s, the 1891 invention by German Wilhelm Bruhn of the taximeter (the familiar mechanical and now often electronic device that calculates the fare in most taxicabs) ushered in the modern taxi. The first modern meter-equipped taxicab was the Daimler Victoria, built by Gottlieb Daimler in 1897. The first modern taxi company was opened by Friedrich Greiner and began operating in Stuttgart the same year.

Gasoline-powered taxicabs began operating in Paris in 1899, in London in 1903, and in New York in 1907. The New York taxicabs were imported from France by Harry N. Allen. Allen was the first person to paint his taxicabs yellow, after learning that yellow is the colour most easily seen from a distance.

Taxicabs proliferated around the world in the early 20th century. The first major innovation after the invention of the taximeter occurred in the late 1940s, when two-way radios first appeared in taxicabs. Radios enabled taxicabs and dispatch offices to communicate and serve customers more efficiently than previous methods, such as using callboxes. The next major innovation occurred in the 1980s, when computer assisted dispatching was first introduced.

A taxi sleigh in Vaasa in the 1920s
The back view of a "bicitaxi" (as identified by its license plate) from Ciudad Nezahualcoyotl, Mexico

There has generally been a legal struggle concerning the certification of motor vehicles to be taxicabs, which take much more wear than a private car does. In London, they were additionally required to meet stringent specifications (Metropolitan Conditions of Fitness - MCF), adopted in entirety by a number of other large UK cities (including Glasgow and Edinburgh), for example, as concerns turn radius, which resulted for a time in having only one make legally usable. In the US, in the 1930s, the cabs were often DeSotos or Packards. General Motors offered a specialized vehicle for a time, named the General. The firm Checker came into existence then, and stopped manufacturing cabs in the early 1980s. Its cars were specially built to carry "double dates." But now New York City requires that all taxicabs be ordinary cars. They are mainly long-wheelbase versions of the Ford Crown Victoria. Toyota Sienna minivans are the alternate vehicle of choice in New York’s cab fleet. In the 1960s in Europe, Mercedes-Benz and Peugeot offered diesel taxicabs. This form of engine is now the norm in Europe due to its superior fuel economy, torque and reliability.

A taxicab in San Francisco
A Taxi-Boat in Venice, Italy
A now phased out VW Beetle taxi in Mexico City. These VW Beetles are commonly referred to as "Vochos"
LTI Fairway in London
A Taxi Cab in Montreal

In recent years, some companies have been adding specially modified vehicles capable of transporting wheelchair-using passengers to their fleets. Such taxicabs are variously called accessible taxis, wheelchair- or wheelchair-accessible taxicabs, modified taxicabs, and so on.

A wheelchair-adapted taxi in Gloucester
  • Mexico City’s ubiquitous VW Type 1 (Beetle) cabs were green and white (being firstly yellow) by law until early 2003. However, the tiny cars had been displaced by bigger four-door sedans, the Nissan Tsuru, a Sentra MkIII (B13) based saloon and recognized for their red/white (or silver) body color. No VW are colored this way anymore. Matchbox released a scale model of the VW taxi in 2004, numbered 31.
  • Three-wheeled Coco taxis, named because their shape resembles that of a coconut, are used in Havana, Cuba.
  • Brazilian taxis are colored orange in Curitiba, yellow in Rio de Janeiro and white in Sao Paulo.


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