Tag Archives: taxicabs

A Taxi Driver and His Cab

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This week’s column is about the Taxi Commandment: thou shalt not covet another taxi driver’s cab.

From my earliest days at National, I fought tooth and nail to get a regular cab that was clean and ran well. I cajoled and begged the cashiers, happily paying extra for National 182, a Ford Fusion that met the above criteria and didn’t have a regular driver. For almost two years, 182 was my trusted ride, until the medallion owner took it out of circulation on a long-term lease.

After that, I ended up with 1462, the only National cab with an ad topper, one of numerous cabs recently acquired from Yellow. I hated driving around with a glowing advertisement above me. Plus, the speakers were broken. So when Vic, the medallion owner/day driver, switched to a 24-hour lease, I was almost relieved to be back at the mercy of the window and the varying conditions and quality of the gate and gas fleet.

Veterans 215 was the best of the worst. Even though I’m not keen on Camrys, this was Juneaux’s former cab, and due to his persnickety nature, the inside had remained mostly clean. But as long as it stayed in general circulation, it’s condition rapidly deteriorated.

Months later, Alex finally told me I would be on Veterans 233, a Fusion with low mileage, leather seats and a sunroof. For weeks, I watched the vehicle transform from a regular car into a taxi. First the paint job, then the taximeter and tablet attached to the dashboard and a top light fastened to the roof. Eventually, SFO permit stickers were affixed to the side and, after several more inspections, the day arrived when I was handed the keys and medallion.

Now that I had a regular cab, my next battle was to make sure other drivers didn’t trash it. Because no matter how cherry a taxi is, most cab drivers seem intent on running a good taxi into the ground.

Read the rest here.

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Vintage Taxicab Ads

A collection of advertisements from the 50s, 60s and 70s for taxicabs manufactured by Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge, Checker, Plymouth, and Pontiac. 

(Click an image for slideshow.)

Taxicabs Around the World – Part Two

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London, England

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Kyoto, Japan

Tafo-Ghana-15-Lloyd-Foster

Tafo, Ghana

Taxi-driver-traffic-policewoman-Baku-1974

Baku, Azerbaijan

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Berlin, Germany

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St. Petersburg, Russia

taxis-calcutta

Calcutta, India

taxis-paris-france

Paris, France

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Manila, Philippines

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Trinidad

A fake $100 bill, a street fight, pupusas and other unanswered questions…

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My column this week for the S.F. Examiner is a somewhat confusing story about an altercation between a cab driver and a pupuseria worker, involving a possible fake $100 bill… 

I don’t hear the details over the two-way radio as it unfolds, but when I come upon the aftermath at 16th and Valencia, I see two SFPD squad cars have National 2977 surrounded. On the sidewalk, cops mingle with the crowd of Saturday night revelers, the mariachis and a few competing hot dog vendors. 

I look for the familiar face of the driver, but an arm in the air distracts me. 

Later, in the Mighty cabstand, Juneaux tells me all he knows: The driver of 2977 was attacked by his passengers and taken to the emergency room. 

While I’m cashing out at the end of my shift, Jesse only has a little more information. The driver, Noguchi, was taken to SF General, and they’re towing the cab back to the yard. 

Outside the office, the weekly recitation of the waybill is underway, with Noguchi’s fate the center of attention. Colin, Juneaux, Late Night Larry, Marty and I stand around asking questions: Why doesn’t somebody just go pick up the cab? Cause the driver has the key. Oh. Has anyone gone to the hospital to check on the driver? Did the police file a report? Are we going to pull the chip from the camera?

After a while, the tow truck arrives with 2977 on the hook. Then Noguchi shows up, bedraggled with a hospital bracelet still around his wrist. 

We immediately demand answers.

Read the rest here.

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Top photo by Christian Lewis.

Joe Strummer in a NY taxicab via the interwebs.