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Yellow Cab Celebrates 50 Years of "Service to the Public"

This article was published in Trips 'n' Tips March 1965.

The 50th anniversary of the founding of Yellow Cab Company was marked on March 2. Since incorporation in 1915 it has grown to become the largest, as well as the oldest taxicab firm in existence today.

It all started back in 1905 when Walden W Shaw and John Hertz became partners in an auto agency. A year later the Walden W Shaw company was incorporated and in 1907 it purchased a number of small Thomas taxicabs equipped with meters. The shaw Livery Company , a combination of several cab and livery firms, came into existence in 1910. It operated Keaton Thomas Flyers, and of all things Cadillacs as Taxicabs.

None of these met the requirements of taxi business, so a decision was made to design a special purpose car strictly for taxi use. New Year’s Eve 1914 saw the completion of the design work on the Yellow Cab Mfg. Co. Cab. The first one (Model J) hit the streets in August 1915. Prior to this the Shaw and yellow had used some 12 different makes of cars.

With the new Yellow, the company went all-out for volume business. Fares in 1915-16 were at one point reduced to 25c for the first one-half mile and 10c for each succeeding mile. Rates of the course have fluctuated through the years dependant largely upon the nations economy. In the 20’s the average one-mile ride cost ranged between 30c to 45c. At the height of the depression in 1933 the same ride charge dipped to 20c.

From the first Yellow Cab Co. assumed the role of "pioneer of the taxi industry". The first major change was adoption of a distinctive colour – one that would always be recognised as meaning "taxicab". Yellow was selected as the result of a survey by well-known research institute. Interestingly in those years ownership of an automobile meant status. Anyone riding in an pre-yellow coloured cab might have been thought to own a car with chauffeur. But to ride in a common taxicab was not dignified at all. It took some doing , but the picture changed so that riding in a Yellow meant that – here was someone who could afford the comfort and carefree ease of a taxicab ride!

Another big Yellow first was the development and use of balloon tyres on taxicabs. The company was also the first to use automatic windshield wipers, ultrahigh frequency two-way radios and in recent years it was the first large fleet to use transistorised UHF radio, and passenger seat belts.

Yellow Cabs is still at the cutting edge. Recently with the introduction of a completely computerised job management and distribution system, Global Positioning System (GPS) in all cabs, Cabcall phone ordering, realtime Internet Taxi Booking System, IVR phone technology, and EFTPOS in all vehicles means that Yellow Cabs will be sure to maintain their position as market leaders.

 

 

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