An Overview of the famous London Black Cabs

Hackney Carriage Black Cab London

A short history and introduction of black cabs.

The famous taxi’s in London are known as black cabs. They have been ruling the taxi industry for a long time. However, we now see a decrease in the classic black Fairway taxi. Nevertheless, the black cab has a rich history in London and commuters still rely on the service for safe travel. Below is a brief history for those who are not much aware of the phenomenal service.

The history behind the name ‘Hackney Carriage’

  • The first cab in London emerged in the 17th century and was known as the Hackney coach. The term was derived from hacquenee. This French terminology was used for a general-purpose horse.
  • In 1625 the amount of such carriages was extremely low. Only 20 carriages were available who usually operated out of inn yards.
  • The first cab rank actually appeared in 1636 when an owner brought the hackney coaches into the Strand outside the Maypole inn. A special tariff was devised for certain parts of London and the drivers wore a livery.
  • The term Hackney carriage is still used to describe black cabs

Knowledge test pre-requisite

Black cabs in London are strongly regulated and have a great reputation. Drivers need to pass a very strict knowledge test before they can actually take charge of the black cab.

According to examiners who take the London knowledge test, it is the hardest thing a driver can opt for. Drop out figures are not available but one thing is for sure ‘transport for London’ only gives licences to about a quarter and a third number of the initial applicants. During the test, the drivers are known as ‘Knowledge girls’ or ‘Knowledge boys’.

The knowledge test ensures that drivers have enough knowledge about London. In the test, drivers have an in-depth course to learn all the pre-set London street routes and places where they might be driving.  This knowledge test is actually a training guide for black cab drivers so that they can operate the black cab properly. Black cab drivers need to have the expertise and knowledge to decide on a route as per the passengers demand, traffic situation and even the weather without having to consult the map.

The knowledge test is rigorous but it certainly brings out the best of drivers and that is where the reputation of black cabs lies.

Black Cab Perks

Black cab is the only taxi service which you can hail from the street. Other private car hires require you to make a phone call before booking an appointment. Black cabs can legally pick up a passenger from anywhere.  This is why this service is deemed to be safe to use and convenient at the same time.

Recently Uber has given a huge challenge to black cab drivers. The cab drivers went on strike accusing Uber of breaking the fundamental rule of taxis. Black cab drivers believe that Uber requires passengers to order through a telephone call. In addition, they believe Uber does not have the right to set fares by itself. All private hire cars need to receive fares approved by the Council.

Although Black cabs are getting tough competition from Uber they still amount to be a favorite for commuters.