THE SIXPENCE A MILE TAXICAB-WHY NOT?
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A Suggestion for the Creation of a New Type of Public-Service Vehicle for the Single Passenger to be Run at a Low Fare Rate.
Is THERE a call for a small taxicab—one which shall be cheap in first cost and cheap to run and maintain, the benefit of these economies being given to the passenger in the form of a fare somewhat lower than the present standard? If one stands in the streets of our cities and towns and makes careful note of the taxicabs and their loads, it will be observed that the use of the vehicles falls into the following categories, placed in their order of importance :—(1) By families (of two or more) with luggage ; (2) by one passenger ; (3) by two passengers ; (4) by more than two passengers.
The question is whether the use of the taxicab can, by any alteration in style of vehicle or mode of operation, be snack more popular in any of these categories. When we 3eme to examine them, we see that the first category —the use of cabs
f o r conveying families and luggage--is not capable of material development., because. the employment of a cab mi such occasions is inevitable, and a
little difference in the cost, more or less, would not be taken into account. In the second category, however; there a r e wonderful possibilities. The use of taxis by the single passenger is capable of encouragement and extension. The business man would be willing to pay a fare that is substantially in excess of a bus fare, but is still moderate, for the advantage of quicker transport and the convenience of being carried the whole way to his destination. There are many men who at night fill the big hotels in the populous centres, and who, being alone at the close of their day's work, have the evening before them and go to theatres or clubs. They are all potential users of the small taxi, but they do not to any extent use the four-seated taxi at the somewhat high. fares charged. And how many, in their business calls, walk or take the tramcar or bus, whereas a low fare would attract them to a cab? The same remarks apply to women on their shopping excursions and their social ca,11s.
The success, where they have been adopted, of the motorcycle sidecar taxis has been very marked, but somehow the dignity necessary for the business man, the theatre goer, or the lady.shopping or calling on friends is not enhanced by this type of vehicle. The holiday resort seems to he its better sphere of action, but its success in business centres has shown that there is an undoubted call for a cheaper mode of locomotion than the full-fare taxi.
This brings us to the consideration of the type of vehicle that is required. We must confess to a sneaking regard for four wheels. But whereas there is a distinct separation of driver and passenger in the full-sized taxi and in the motorcycle sidecar corn
hination, we strike a difficulty in this matter when we come to a vehicle which is likely to fulfil the requirements laid down in our opening paragraph. Of. . chassis that seem to us suitable for the purpose we may mention the 7 h.p. Austin, the 8 h.p. Rover, and the 10 h.p. Trojan. These by no means exhaust the list, but they will serve to show the type of chassis that is in our mind.
On the wheelbase available it would not be very difficult to separate the passenger from the driver, for the seats could be staggered to some extent. If the frame could be lengthened and strengthened where necessary, the passenger could be given a wider seat, for on the standard wheelbase the driver would have a single seat on the off side (in the usual position), the space to the left thereof being a passage-way to the passenger's seat, which would be on the near side of the vehicle, the passage-way givirig him leg room when seated. The small space on the passenger's right and behind , the. driver would pro vide accommodation for a small amount of luggage. A light top might be possible, otherwise the or . dinary hood would have to suffice. Such a vehicle could run on 26-in. by 3-in. tyres and it should be able to cover 60 miles of town work on a gallon of petrol. From figures available we should place the running costs . at 1/d. per mile, whilst the wages of the driver, garaging, maintenance, insurance, interest on capital, licences, and depreciation should be covered by about id. per mile. At present the fares charged are still at the high rate of Is. for the first mile and 3d. per subsequent quarter-mile for the four-seater taxi, whilst for the motorcycle sidecar taxis the fare rate is on the basis of 8d. per mile. The fare rate which we advocate for the small one-seated taxi is the same as for the sidecar taxi, and we think that in each case it could come down to 6d. per mile. There is no reason why the quarter-mile distances over one mile should not be scaled at lid. each, because the driver could always be sure of receiving the extra half-penny, the total of which, in the course of a day could easily be from is. to 2s. With his tip the driver could thus depend on receiving 9d. for the first mile, 10d. or lid. for l miles, Is. for 1 miles, ls. 2d. for 11 miles, and Is. 4d. for 2 miles. If the fare were based on 8d. per mile, he would receive from 10d. to Is. for the first mile, is. Id. for 11 miles, Is. 3d. for li miles, is. 6d. for 11 miles, and is. 7d. or Is. 8d. for 2 miles. With a low fare of this kind the single-seated taxi would be enormously popular, and the police authorities should find nothing in any of the standard designs to which to object.