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Good Taxis

2

Comments

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,065
    1) European customers would never accept the cramped, uncomfortable cars that pass as taxis in NA. I suspect the drivers would go out on strike if forced to spend eight hours in a Crown Vic.

    I always thought it was a bit ironic that, of the Big Three full-sized models that downsized in the late 70's, the Crown Vic was the one that was usually worst-suited for police/taxi duty, yet it was the one that held on the longest.

    And in some ways, the Crown Vic seems to have gotten WORSE with age! A buddy of mine has an '04 Crown Vic LX (uplevel models) and I swear it's not as nice or comfy inside as his old '95 Grand Marquis GS (base model). It also seems to me that the older, boxier 1979-91 style was roomier inside. More comfy, better seat padding, easier to get in and out of, etc.

    The Crown Vic was the smallest of the Big Three downsized cars, though, so that might be one reason. It started off on a 114.3" wheelbase (I think it's increased a bit to 114.7 now). In contrast, GM's B-bodies were on a 116" wb, and Chrysler's short-lived 1979-81 models were on a 118.5" wb. It just seems to me that things like the wheel wells, driveshaft/tranny hump, and dashboard intrude more into the passenger area on the Crown Vic than they do in the other cars. And these are factors that won't affect published headroom/shoulder room/legroom dimensions, but still make the car less comfortable.
  • writerwriter Posts: 119
    I just checked back the date of I started this topic. I wondered back then if we would have some real taxi people (owners, drivers, mechanics) replying on this topic. I am a bit surprised. I would have thought that some ex-cabbies would be around, but I guess not. Either that or they just do not feel like posting anything on this topic.
  • writerwriter Posts: 119
    While I was driving this morning, I heard a news report about Mayor Bloomberg saying that New York City's cabs were going to be hybrids. I did not hear the whole report, but the thought stuck in my head and I just got around to a Google search and I guess that what I heard was his address to the "UNITED NATIONS FRAMEWORK CONVENTION FOR CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE" today.

    Bloomberg address press release

    Among his comments in his address, he said:

    "Just this week, we took steps to ensure that by the year 2012, our city's 13,000 taxicabs will be hybrid or hybrid-equivalents. That alone will cut New York City's carbon emissions by nearly half a percentage point, and save each cabdriver almost $5,000 a year in fuel costs."

    I did not know that this was going on. Something to think about.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,252
    It seems to me that the '08 Scion xB would be a nice, practical taxi. It might be even better with a Prius drivetrain, or a diesel engine. The relative unaerodynamic shape would be relatively insignificant for a taxi, where space efficiency is a higher priority.

    Domestic alternatives would include the Ford Escape hybrid, Saturn Vue hybrid or Malibu hybrid.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,688
    I believe there are already a small number of Escape Hybrids doing Taxi duty in the Big Apple. They strike me as too small and the cost for replacing batteries must be horrendous.

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,196
    ...had a very good taxi in the 1942-48 models. Packard also made taxis of their six-cylinder models.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,252
    "They strike me as too small and the cost for replacing batteries must be horrendous."

    I don't know about the cost of replacing batteries, but the U.S. is one of the only countries where the Escape is too small for taxi service. Achieving greater energy independence will probably require small sacrifices here and there, at least until better technology is developed. I'm not saying we should use old VW Beetles as taxis, as they do in Mexico City, or that the Escape is the best choice, but those Crown Vics strike me as unnecessarily wasteful.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,688
    The Crown Vic is extremely wasteful, I'll bet it has less passenger room than a Scion xB, or an Escape, for that matter.

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,056
    The Crown Vic is extremely wasteful, I'll bet it has less passenger room than a Scion xB, or an Escape, for that matter.

    How about trunk space? A rental agency tried to stick me with an Escape when I rented an Explorer. We could not get all our luggage behind the seat. Had to stack it in the back seat.

    What other sedan holds 6 people? Most of the Crown Vics in San Diego are CNG making them somewhat cleaner than a hybrid.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,252
    "What other sedan holds 6 people?"

    The Chevy Impala and Buick LaCrosse can be ordered with six passenger seating. I would think that the Impala, especially, would be a good substitute for the Crown Vic.

    Surprisingly, the new Taurus doesn't offer 6 passenger seating, as far as I know. Too bad, because I believe the Taurus may offer more interior room than the Crown Vic. Maybe Ford wants to discourage using the Taurus for taxi service, since it would hurt its image. Yet, Mercedes are used as taxis in many countries, perhaps even helping that brand's image as a well built, sturdy car that can take a lot of abuse.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,065
    Maybe Ford wants to discourage using the Taurus for taxi service, since it would hurt its image.

    That's a shame, because the 500...er, Taurus, would actually make an excellent taxi. Its trunk is actually larger than the Crown Vic's! As far as back seat comfort goes, the new Taurus seems almost limousine-like with regards to legroom. Much better than the Crown Vic, IMO. Plus, you have larger door openings, less of a center hump, etc. Now shoulder room is a couple inches tighter than the Crown Vic, so I guess it's a tossup. Two big people would be more comfortable in the back of the Taurus, but three short people would be a bit better off in the Crown Vic.

    The only area I thought the 500/Taurus came up short in was legroom up front. Seemed a bit tight for my tastes, but then I am kind of tall. Probably more than adequate for most people.

    I'd imagine that a Crown Vic could still take a harder pounding than a Taurus could, though. So when pressed into abusive taxi service, it might hold up longer, and be cheaper to operate in the long run. Still, as big, beefy cars of that type become more and more scarce, I see all sorts of other cars being pressed into taxi service, so maybe they can take it, too?
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,056
    One place the Crown Vic will shine over many other cars is cost to repair after a collision. Insurance should be cheaper than a lot of smaller cars. Crumple zones are a major expense in a minor collision.
  • writerwriter Posts: 119
    Would a driver let a passenger in the front seat of a cab in New York? I would not expect that. Cab drivers get attacked some times. If not, then the Crown Vic is only a 3 seater in normal cab use.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,056
    Most of my cab riding was in Anchorage. I always jumped in the front seat. I guess it is not as uncivilized in Alaska as in NY. I do think it would be hard to get more than one in the front seat with all the stuff a cabby has laying up there.

    It will be interesting to see how people take to smaller taxi cabs like the Prius. They were very popular in Victoria BC.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,252
    I observed on numerous occasions that taxi drivers in Europe, and also Asia, are not as rough on their cars as U.S. drivers are. There's a notable difference, on average. They may drive faster, but they have more respect for their cars. I don't know whether this is largely due to the difference in the price of fuel or to cultural reasons, but it occurred to me that driving style may be a key factor in the vehicles that are used as taxis, and a key component to increasing the fuel efficiency of our taxi fleet.

    Would gas guzzling Crown Vics be so popular - indeed, could they be justified - if drivers abused their cars less, by driving more gently? Not slower, necessarily; just more gently.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,065
    Would gas guzzling Crown Vics be so popular - indeed, could they be justified - if drivers abused their cars less, by driving more gently? Not slower, necessarily; just more gently.

    I dunno...that's an interesting thought. Do the taxi drivers in Europe own their own cars, or do they tend to be owned by the company? In the United States, there actually seems to be a mix. I had a friend in college whose father moonlighted as a Cabbie, for Yellow Cabs I think it was (black cars with yellow doors). He always used his own cars, which would be painted company colors. I remember him having an '83 or so Electra, and then trying to work on a Versailles, of all cars, to get it ready for service, but soon after buying an '86 or so Town Car that he was getting ready to put into service. Last time I saw my friend's Dad about 3 years ago, there was a late 90's Town Car taxi in his driveway, so I'm guessing he's still doing it.

    Seems to me that if you're using your own car, you'd be more gentle on it. But then, maybe that's one reason why these guys would get these cheap, sturdy, durable battlecruisers...so that they COULD abuse them, and could just get by as cheaply as possible. In those days, when gas was cheap, I doubt if a more economical taxi would have paid for itself simply in fuel savings, but today, with higher gas prices, it just might.

    Aren't cars typically more expensive in Europe, when compared to a typical person's salary? If so, that could be one reason the cabbies treat them better. If they're using their own cars, they want them to last, or if they're company cars, maybe the company gives them a lot of grief if they abuse them?
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,056
    I am not sure about cabs. I have used Cloud 9 shuttle to the airport many times. The drivers tell me the Chevy full size vans go 400,000+ miles before being replaced. Ford Vans rarely get to 250,000 miles. Not sure if repair is cheaper on the GM van or what. I would expect a Crown Vic to last at least 250k miles.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,252
    I know that in some cases taxi drivers in europe own their own cars, because I chatted with some and learned this, but I don't know if it's typical or not. Regardless, I've ridden in cabs in numerous European countries, and in China, and I've never seen a driver drive in an abusive manner. Fast, many times, but not always. I've also experienced cabs that get uncomfortably close to pedestrians, cyclists, and other cars, but they seem to do it with great skill. As far as I recall I never experienced a jack rabbit start (adjusted for less horsepower), followed by slamming on the brakes, as cabbies sometimes do in this country.

    One difference is that the percentage of people who drive cabs as a career, and not in between jobs, or part time, is greater in some other countries.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,252
    This discussion has been inactive for more than a year.

    Did anyone suggest Ford Crown Vic hybrids or diesels for taxi service? Since the taxi industry seems to like the attributes of these cars, adding a hybrid or diesel option, or, maybe even better, a diesel hybrid, would be a way to keep these cars in service. Sure, they would cost more, but since big city taxis are run around the clock, the incremental initial cost and higher maintenance costs (for hybrids) might be totally offset, or even more than offset, by fuel savings.

    A Lincoln Town Car version could serve the limo industry.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,056
    There are thousands of Crown Vics running on CNG here in CA. Cops and taxi cabs. More plentiful than regular gas and cleaner than a hybrid.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,252
    Doesn't CNG take up a lot of space?
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,056
    I am not sure where they put the tank. I know the trunk is huge as I have ridden in them. Of course the back seat is very roomy. Much better than the Escape or Prius so many people would like to see take over.
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,391
    I know I'll hate myself for having to ask but when did they stop making Checkers? They were great cabs. I remember having 4 or 5 passengers in them without a big problem.

    In high school I knew a kid who was one of 10. his folks would get either Checkers or Ford airport wagons.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,065
    I think 1982 was the last year for Checker. I always thought they were neat rigs. I think Shifty had one once, or at least drove one a long distance, and said the front seat comfort was horrible. I sat in one that was for sale at Carlisle once, but can't remember how it was. I don't remember it being bad, but it's hard to tell from just sitting in something for a minute or two.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    I just think you are in a world of your own sometimes, Gary.

    I don't know of anyone else I know other than you who picks a cab and says, "Dang, I'm glad this cab has 45 inches of legroom !!"

    I have taken cabs maybe 60-70 times in my life. In various countries. And NEVER EVER have I given a darn about how much room was in the seat. I'm 5'9" and medium build.

    I don't pick a taxi for the luxury and comfort level. I have usually picked cabs only as a last resort and WHATEVER can get me there, I'm happy to have.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,065
    I have taken cabs maybe 60-70 times in my life. In various countries. And NEVER EVER have I given a darn about how much room was in the seat. I'm 5'9" and medium build.

    Funny thing is, I don't think the Crown Vic is all that great, given its big external dimensions. I'm 6'3", and find legroom kinda tight in the back. Definitely tighter than the Caprice or the old Mopar R-body. Heck, even the old M-body Gran Fury/Diplomat weren't any smaller, IMO.

    I think the current Ford Taurus/Mercury Sable would make a great taxi. Roomy back seat with almost limo-like legroom, and a trunk that's actually bigger than the Crown Vic's!

    The Crown Vic probably wins out as a cab because they're rugged and durable, and can take a beating.

    I can't even remember the last time I was even in a taxi cab. It was long enough ago though, that I remember it being a '91-96 Caprice.
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,391
    Last time I was in one was in China in 2002. Volkawagen Jetta. The driver had a seat belt. The passengers didn't!
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,056
    I'm trying to remember my last cab ride. It was probably in Xtapa or Mazatlan. They have all small cramped taxis like the Prius. I prefer and usually go in a shuttle van. By far my preference. Unlike some people I will not ask someone to ride in the back of a vehicle I own that I would not ride in. Usually first place I sit is in the back seat. If it is cramped not a chance I would buy the vehicle. When you are charging the customer their comfort should be considered before your own personal preference or cost to do business. I understand why they use the Prius in Canada. I think most people would if they know many Canadians.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,688
    and as an ex-NYer have ridden in the back of cabs hundreds of times, the cramped back seats of the CVs always made me long for the days of those roomy checkers

    Of course, the armored partition found in most NYC cabs doesn't do a thing for leg room but I once rode back-to-back in a CV with no partition and then an Impala.
    The Chevy was way more roomy in back.

    Supposedly the Taxi Fleets preferred less roomy RWDs for reasons of lower maintainence and longevity but now I see FWD vans, particularly Siennas catching on as cabs everywhere.

    If Mayor Bloomberg has his way the entire fleet will go hybrid in a few years. I wonder how owners will feel about replacing those battery packs. :sick:

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • fezofezo Posts: 9,391
    I'm an inch shorter than you and am amazed at how cramped a back seat can be. What the heck do tall people do?
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