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The Global Superstar: The Taxi

The modern world is dominated by technology, corporation and progress; it is situated within the context of world superpowers secretly fighting it out for power and control. However, what overrides all of these thing is the vital need for communication and contact, without which this global society would not be possible. But do not worry, I am not going to launch into a political rant about the capitalist agenda and the weakness of democracy (I am not Russell Brand after all, much as that saddens me to say). Instead, I wish to talk about what began as a small local endeavour has evolved into a worldwide institution. They provide the communication and contact we so crave. Despite their importance, we often take them for granted. And yet, here they remain. Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to take these few moments to examine the truth behind the majesty of the taxi.

Throughout my life, I have had the privilege of travelling to a wide range of countries, which has meant that I have had the pleasure of riding in a multitude of taxis. These rides have ranged from the normal to the downright ridiculous, but that is for another day. I cannot hide the fact that I am a London boy at heart, and so my life has been dominated by the London Black Cab. Therefore, I shall focus my attention on probably one of the most famous cars on the planet. The Black Cab has been so engrained into British culture that I am surprised it has not yet been adopted into the Royal Family.

The London Black CabAt first glance, this post may appear to be a little random. However, this post was inspired by the results of a recent survey by that revealed a glimpse into how we rank the taxi-cabs of the world. Over 2,600 people responded to the survey from around 30 countries. The results showed that the top 4 taxis were:

  1. London
  2. Tokyo
  3. New York
  4. Berlin

Some of the other statistics to come from this survey include activities that we often find ourselves doing while in the back of a taxi:

  • Texting/ Emailing (19%)
  • Sleeping (15%)
  • Eating (10%)
  • Kissing (9%)

Interestingly enough, it turns out that the British people are the people least afraid of erm… showing affection while in the back of a taxi, with 14% admitting to amorous taxi activity, which says a lot considering the global average is only 4%. What are we like ey?

Seeing as the British taxi seemed to do so well in the survey, the least they deserve is a fellow Brit to further explain their greatness. I mean after all, living in London has meant that I have had the pleasure of getting meet and speak to people from all over the world. Tourists all seem to say the same things when in London:

Buckingham Palace, The Changing of the Guard, The Red Phonebox and of course, the Black Cab.

Tourist AttractionEven though I consider myself a local to these parts, there are even times even now where I find myself in awe of the Black Cab. It is physically, mentally and LITERALLY impossible to go out and about in London and not see a Black taxi. They dominate the cultural landscape of the city. You might even say that they define the very essence of London. London would not be London without them. The only thing that I hold in higher stead than the taxis themselves are their drivers. London cab drivers have attained an international status – they are genuinely some of the most intelligent and insighful people I have ever met. There is very little they do not know about. I mean seriously I have a undergraduate and masters degree in archaeology and I have had a sustained intellectual conversation with London taxi drivers about archaeology which has even tested my knowledge.

It is astounding to be able to get into a taxi in London, reel off a location and the driver will know exactly where you are talking about. Not only will he know where you are talking about, but he will have already mapped about 15 possible routes taking into account distance and traffic. One day I may perform an experiment to see whether a London Black Cab driver is actually better than a SatNav across the streets of the capital. I am willing to put money on the human winning this one. In fact, I have previously personally proven that the human brain can outsmart technology, but that is another story for another time.

Now obviously nothing is perfect, and the Black Cab is no exception. One of the largest complaints that comes with taking these taxis is the ridonculous (yes, that is a word now) cost along with the habit of many drivers to take the ‘scenic’ route so as to make a few extra quid. More worryingly, a few years back when a new model of Black Cab was introduced, they would often well, how can I put this… spontaneously combust. Now I do not know about you but this is not something I want happening to a car that is driving me somewhere. But hey, whatever floats your boat!

Black Taxi Fire

As buses, trains and underground trains have become ever more efficient and used over the years, you would think that there would be a worry that the taxi as we know it may begin to decline. But there is no stopping this beast. The taxi has planted itself in the pages of history and will remain long into the future. Even though in London especially, the Black Cab has come under pressure from the rise of newer taxi companies such as Addison Lee, it has fought them off galantly and will continue to fight on.

Long may they reign!

For more car chat and any questions you may have, follow me on Twitter @lewisglynn69

Keep Driving People!

Peace and Love!