French Taxis vs. British Taxis

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The word “Taxi” is a global word, wherever you go, wherever you are, you are going to see this word on the roof of a car. The term “taxi” comes from taximeter, the counter used to measure miles traveled and fare. “Cab” (that is a synonym for the word taxi) was short for “cabriolet”, a French verb for “to leap”, which was a type of taxi and what one did to exit them. In this document, I am going to talk a little bit about French Taxis and British Taxis, highlighting the differences between each other. British taxis, better known as black cabs in London, were not always vehicles; at the beginning of the taxis industry in England, the most common way of transporting was by horse-drawn carriage; because of the use of this mean of transportation, British taxis can also be named as the hackney carriage. France cabs were just like the British cabs, horse-drawn carriages; however, France started to use gasoline-powered cabs before England. French taxicabs became important during the Battle of the Marne in World War I since the French army used them to transport troops and supplies to the battlefield.

When you are in France, it is necessary to go to a Taxi Rank or Taxi Station in order to take a taxi ( réservation taxi ), these taxi ranks can be found at airports, outside train stations and at important places in towns or cities. At some taxi ranks, you can find a button that is used to call a taxi when there is not one waiting. There are taxi ranks in England too, but in these ones, a button to call a black cab does not exist. British taxicab drivers are allowed to pick up passengers on the street without pre-booking or without being waiting in a taxi rank (they must not pick up or drop off passengers in crosswalks or interceptions); if you are in London, you just have to say to the black cab driver the name of the place that you want to go without specifying the address, this is because Londoner’s black cabs driver have a very broad knowledge of the routes, so they can take you to your destiny by taking the shortest and quickest routes, even taking into account the traffic. It is technically illegal to shout “Taxi” in order to get the attention of the taxi driver

if you want to hail a taxicab, you must put your hand up; if you shout, the taxi driver will not stop to pick you up. On the other hand, French taxi drivers can pick up passengers in the street without pre-booking, just if they pick them up at least fifty meters from a taxi rank. Black cabs drivers do not have too many problems in allowing animals to enter the car; on the other hand, French cabs drivers are entitled to refuse to carry animals, except when the animal is a guide dog which goes with a blind person; some French cabs drivers allow the entrance of some small dogs, but just if the passenger pays an extra fee, because of this, it is necessary to specify when you are making the reservation if you wish to travel with animals in order to find a transport provider that will accept them. Meanwhile in England, disabled people take the same type of taxicab that the rest of the people take, France has adapted some cars to be used by disabled people, these kinds of cars are available in the majority of French cities; however, they cannot be taken in the street, they must be booked.

Booking a taxi is pretty much the same in both countries (by phone or online), but the difference is in the car and in the experience. Some French taxi provider offers optional extra services that can be asked at the booking moment, such as booster seat (child seat), air conditioning, drinks, newspapers, Wi-Fi connection, GPS equipment with traffic display in real time or a bilingual chauffeur. British black cabs agencies have taxis private hire services, these private taxis are known as minicabs. The term minicab is used just in the capital London, for the rest of the United Kingdom are known as private hire taxis or private hire cabs. A minicab is a private car which just can be taken by pre-booking; the passenger can get a higher-value car (Mercedes Benz or Jaguars) by paying a premium fare, but in return receives a level of comfort higher than the regular private hire cabs and a little courtesy from the minicab driver. In France, the same regular kind of cabs are used for private services, in addition, the passenger must pay the journey from the agency (or the current location of the private taxi at the moment of the booking) to the pickup point.

The range of the prices depends on the time, the distance, and the extras that can be asked by the passenger, such as luggage heavier than 5kg, pets, waiting time, a fourth adult (when the taxi is booked by four adults or more, the taxi driver must charge an extra fare of four euros for each adult from the fourth) and the rate. France has three kinds of fare rates: Rate A, around one euro with six cents per kilometer: It is for inside the cities; it is the cheapest rate in France. This rate is applicable within the city limits from ten am to five pm. The city limits cover Paris as far as the boulevard périphérique (ring road) inclusive. Rate B, around one euro with thirty cents per kilometer: It is for the distances outside the cities, but not that far. It is more expensive than Rate A. This rate is applicable within the city limits from five pm to ten am and on Sundays from seven am to midnight and on public holidays from 12 midnight to 12 midnight. Applicable in the suburban zone from seven am to seven pm. Rate C, around one euro with fifty-eight cents per kilometer: It is the most expensive rate in France; it is for distances very far away from the cities. This rate is applicable within the city limits from midnight to seven am on Sunday, including Sundays that are public holidays. Applicable in the suburban zone from seven pm to seven am and on Sundays and public holidays. Applicable beyond the suburban zone always.

Fares of French cabs are the cheapest fares in Europe. The fares of the taxicabs in French towns are more expensive than the fares from the cities. As a curiosity taxi in rural areas often are used as ambulances. The color of the taxicabs depends on the city; in the majority of towns and cities of France, most of the taxis are black and white. In many metropolitan areas throughout the United Kingdom, taxis are licensed by the local authority, and in many places are required to be painted by a certain color. For instance, hackney carriages are blue in Bristol, yellow in Derby, and silver in Portsmouth; while black is the most common color for London taxis, these are not required to paint the cab in black. They can be blue, yellow, green, red, and there are some which have the British flag painted. Colors have always been important in taxis industry, especially the colors of the lights. In France, a taxi for hire is indicated by a white light on the roof. A driver must take a passenger if the light on top of his vehicle is lit, unless he is on the last half hour of his shift, in that case, he can consider not to take the passenger if the time required will pass the deadline. An orange light means that the taxi is engaged; when no lights are on means that the taxi is not working, and the driver is off duty. There are also three small lights under the main taxi light that indicates which of three rates is operating at that moment.

British taxicabs have the taxi sign at the front center of the roof, above the windshield. This sign is illuminated when the taxi is free for hire, in that case, you can hail it; but when the light is off, means that the cab is not for hire because it has a fare already or it is out of service. French taxi drivers, either owners or employees, must hold a certificate of professional competence that refers that the driver is authorized to perform the work of a taxi driver. This professional card must be displayed at the bottom of the car windshield, and it must specify in which area or areas the driver can exercise his profession. British taxicabs regulations are a little bit similar than French taxicab regulations; however, the Londoners cabs drivers must take a test that is called “The Knowledge”. The Knowledge is an exam that every taxi driver in London must pass to receive a taxi driver license; it consists in knowing all the routes and the traffic information of London. To develop this knowledge, the futures taxi drivers have to study the three hundred and twenty standard routes of London, within a six miles radius of Charing Cross, these routes include twenty five thousand streets and twenty thousand landmarks such as squares, clubs, hospitals, hotels, theatres, embassies, government and public buildings, railway stations, police stations, courts, diplomatic buildings, important places of worship, cemeteries, crematoria, parks and open spaces, sports and leisure centers, places of learning, restaurants and historic buildings.

The students or trainees of The Knowledge are better known as Knowledge Boys or Knowledge Girls. These people are studying the routes by riding a scooter with a map around the city; Knowledge boys and girls can be identified by the clipboard that is affixed to the handlebars. Knowledge boys and girls generally take a course in a Knowledge Schools for two or three years; these Knowledge schools provide to the students, books, maps and classroom tuition which help Knowledge students to learn the three hundred and twenty routes and points of interest of London. Once the Knowledge boys and girls feel ready, they take the test, which consists in taking the examiner to two random points chosen by the teacher. The examiner just gives the name of the drop-off point to the student, and he or she must choose the shortest and most sensible route from one to the other. For each route, the applicants must recite the names of the roads used, when they cross junctions, use roundabouts, make turns, and what is alongside them at each point.

Although there are more than fifteen thousand taxis just in Paris, it is too difficult to find one, especially during lunchtime, rush hours and when it is raining, and you do not have an umbrella; this last is because French taxi drivers will not allow you to go with him if your clothing is dirty or wet. On the other hand, there are approximately twenty-one thousand black cabs in London. Many cabs drivers own their taxi and operate as independent businesses. By law, British taxicabs had to be tall enough for a passenger to sit comfortably while wearing a bowler hat. In addition, at one time, hackney carriages were required to carry a bale of hay for the horse. This law was held over for a time even after gasoline-powered cabs began to operate Londoner’s black cabs have a turning circle of only 25 feet. The reason for this is supposed to accommodate the small roundabout at the entrance of the Savoy Hotel. This turning radius later became legally required of all London taxis. Savoy Court is also one of the only places in London where vehicles drive on the right, and it was the custom of patrons to sit behind the driver so that they would enter or exit the cab on the side facing the hotel. In conclusion, both taxis industries (British and French) have several similar aspects, nevertheless, there are more differences than similarities between each other. No one is absolutely better than the other, they are good enough for the country in which they operate.


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