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21 May, 2006

Hansom thoughts

Isn't it odd that in 2006 British taxis are still called 'hackney carriages'?  That's not a slang term, it's official, presumably the result of antiquated wording in the regulating legislation, and appears in inch-high letters on the doors of all City-registered taxis* in Lancaster.

Maybe it's an urban myth, but doesn't each London 'black cab' still have to carry a certain quantity of straw, nominally for the horse?

Incidentally, 'hackney' referred to the horse, not the London borough!

*: The variety permitted to pick up passengers in the street or from taxi ranks, anyway. The term 'hackney carriages' distinguishes them from 'minicabs', which must be prebooked by phone. A minicab driver who accepts passengers without a booking would be breaking the law, so don't necessarily criticise a driver who seems to ignore you and drives past – if the sign on the taxi roof only displays a phone number, it's a minicab.

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