The ubiquitous canary yellow cars have been a part of American since the early days of the automobile.
Motorized cabs have been a part of America’s history since they were first introduced in 1897 when a New York City cab company introduced a dozen electric hansom cabs to transport people. Taxis or hansoms had existed since the 17th century in Europe, although they were pulled by horses then. It was the New York Taxicab Company in 1907 that painted the cabs yellow to make them stand out from distance.
As the taxi industry grew, so did governmental regulations. One method was the medallion licensing system which limited the number of cabs in a city, say New York, which critics say raises the cost of transportation. However, others say cities that don’t use the medallion system are filled with poorly-maintained cars.
Other cities may require criminal background checks on all taxi drivers, as well as set minimum liability insurance coverage
Part of taxi history is hailing it from the street. You could stand on a corner in Manhattan and extend your arm to hail a taxi. You could also whistle. Or, you could call for a cab to pick you up.
But in the past few years, there is a taxi cab revolution going on throughout the county.
With the advent of TNCs, Transportation Network Companies, you can still use your phone to call for a taxi, but for these TNCs you use an app on your smartphones to get a lift. It has revolutionized the industry, and has caught state legislatures and the insurance industry way behind the curve.
The cab industry had been in flux since these ride-sharing companies have arrived. Originally, the idea was a quaint way to connect people who needed a ride with people who wanted to offer a ride. Ride-sharing is what they call it, and it appeared to be less expensive than traditional cab service.
But it was direct attack on the taxi companies, which had to spend money on licensing and insurance that these new companies were avoiding..
In Florida, when I tried to get car insurance to drive for a TNC, I couldn’t. Insurance companies wouldn’t insure me if I told them I was going to drive for money, and, they said, if they found out, my personal car insurance would be canceled. There also has been controversy about when the TNC umbrella insurance kicks in for its drivers. Is it when the drivers turn on the app to start taking fares or when they pick the fare up?
If I had driven for a TNC, I could have been left without personal coverage if I had an accident on my time with my friends in the car.
Also, in many areas cab companies have been required to do national criminal background checks whereas some ride-sharing companies only do a state background check.
Many state legislatures have not figured out a way to handle the new era of taxi service. This past year some insurance companies have been testing pilot policies for TCN drivers. It would be a personal policy plus. More expensive, but not so high as to discourage people from trying it out.
One city threw their collective hands up in the air and removed all licensing requirements within the city limits. That added even more people entering the “taxi” business. Anyone now could put a magnet sign on their car’s door and proclaim themselves a cabbie.
What does that mean to the consumer? You might want to check out the cab service when you call them. Ask them if they are licensed by the local cities. Ask them if they carry liability insurance, and how much. Ask them if they do a national criminal background check. Don’t you want to know who is driving you to the airport.
You will have to check back next year to see how the new taxi service era evolved.