The first motorised taxis were introduced into Sydney in 1906 and the other states soon followed. Not only did we adopt the motorised cab, but in 1924 PW Tewkesbury formed Yellow Cabs of Australasia bought the franchise for Australia and imported 100 yellow cabs which arrived in Melbourne soon after.
The Melbourne Herald was suitably impressed and said:
“The trim yellow vehicles challenged the eye in the street today. Driven by men wearing smart brown uniforms, the cabs glistening in their brand new coats of paint, made a vivid picture against the drab background of the city.”
In 1925 they spread to the other capital cities and indeed still are quite prevalent throughout Queensland and Melbourne.
Renault featured in the early days of motorised taxis and took the place of the hansom cabs, the target market being gentlemen of distinction. It wasn’t until the 1920s and 30s that the American and British makes took over with makes as wide ranging as Rugby and Hupmobile plying the streets of Australia as taxis.
In May 2014, Melbourne held an exhibition dedicated the the taxi in the city titled “Hello Yellow”. As usual there is some debate as to which city introduced the first motorised taxi, Melbourne claiming they were the first in 1909. It did exhibit what an egalitarian industry; with women driving cabs as early as 1918. The first female taxi driver in Melbourne is reputed to be Christian Jolly Smith, a full time solicitor who drove taxis in her down time!
In the early taxi days, it was the drivers that calculated the fares and it was the advent of meters that truly brought trust to an industry that has carried so many passengers over the years. At first it was only possible to hail a taxi and they employed signs stating “for hire”. Later the bigger taxi companies added telephones in steel boxes at central city cab ranks as well as some suburban ones.
The advent of centralised radio bookings allowed the public easier access to taxis wherever they were. The first form of car to car communication revolutionised the industry and it wasn’t until the advent of in-car terminals that this form of booking and communication was surpassed.
Technological disruption has occurred across many industries throughout the late 20th century and early 21st century. It was the advent of the mobile phone that really shook up the taxi industry. The agility of the platform allowed other unregulated and unlicensed players to enter the P2P transport industry and cause the taxi industry a large amount of heartache.
Ride sharing has become part of the Australian transport landscape but even though it has taken some of the business it has not replaced the taxi. People trust the taxi driver to get them where they are going and know that they are licensed and sufficiently insured.
You can always hail a cab by the side of any busy city street, or make a booking via phone, but it was the disconnect with current technical solutions that really hurt the taxi industry.
There have been a few taxi app contenders in Australia but very few have had access to the network that Rydo does. With a soft launch of mid November 2016 and full scale launch in late January 2017, Rydo will give users access to over 15,000 professional taxi and hire car drivers.
Rydo differs from the unregulated drivers in that their drivers are all licensed and have undertaken state prescribed training. You can pre-book with Rydo, a day or week ahead, and unlike other P2P transport apps they don’t charge you more because they are busy, they don’t need to get more drivers on the road they are already there.