The Drost Automatic Electric Cab-call.
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Hamburg's automatic-electric system for calling rnotorcabs has been applied under a patent belonging to Herr Theodor Drost, of Berlin-Halensee. The arrangement is as follows :—Two automatic apparatuses, connected up with a central station through the agency of underground cables, are fixed at every cabrank. Of these, one is for the arriving chauffeur and the other for the arriving fare. At the station end of the cables there is a dial-plate, over which moves an index when set in motion at the rank-terminal. No sooner has a cabman taken up his stand on the rank than he drops a mark into his apparatus, and his arrival is forthwith registered on the dial by the index. If, say, six cabs are on any rank, then the indicator points to the number six on the dial-plate for this rank. Consequently, the clerk—female labour is employed in Hamburg for this business—at the central depot can see, at a glance, just how the free motorcabs are distributed about the ranks at
any moment. This knowledge enables the clerk to conform supply to demand by calling off cabs from a rank where there is no Immediate shortage to another where vehicles fall below requirements. On being hired, the chauffeur removes the mark from his apparatus, whereupon, of course, the indicator moves back to the next lowest figure on the dial at the station end. Thus are a flux and reflux of free cabs recorded. In the event of a would-be passenger finding a rank empty, all he need do is to make use of the second apparatus, dropping a coin into its slot, and the clerk immediately signals from the station that a cab is on the way. In Hamburg, the would-be fare must drop a mark into the apparatus. This coin is taken out of the box by the cabman on his arrival, and retained until the end of the journey, when the passenger receives his change or pays more, as thin case may be. We commend this ingenious scheme to the consideration of licensing authorities in England.