Landaulet cabs driven by internal-combustion motors using gasoline for fuel were put in operation as public hacks in New York on October 1 last. They are of the type that has become popular in Paris and London during the last two or three years, being, in fact, of French manufacture, and imported to America upon the order of two companies. Of these companies, one is now operating Delahaye and the other Dar-racq vehicles. For the company operating the Delahaye cabs, the tariff is now as follows: For one or two passengers: First half mile or fraction, 30 cents; each quarter mile thereafter, 10 cents; each four minutes of waiting, 10 cents. For three, four, or five passengers: First one-third mile or fraction, 30 cents; each one-sixth mile thereafter, 10 cents; each four minutes of waiting, 10 cents. Extra for ordering cab, each mile or fraction from stand or station to point ordered, 20 cents; for trunk, 20 cents. Shipments of the remaining twenty-five Delahaye cabs of the first lot of fifty ordered were received during October, and the work of fitting them with American pneumatic tires, and German taximeter instruments for automatically calculating the fare to be pai by the passenger, is still in progress. All of the new gasoline cabs are equipped with taximeters before they are put on the streets. The cabs have yellow running gears, olive-green bodies with black and yellow striping, and black tops trimmed with brass. The front inside seats are upholstered in smooth, black leather, which is also used for lining the lower half of the interior. It is serviceable and sanitary, and appropriate for the public service to which the cabs are put. The folding top is lined with very dark green broadcloth. All windows, of which there are six, let down into the body out of sight for fair weather. The permanent furnishings that contribute to the comfort of the passengers are two small drop seats suitable for children or adults of small size, two large side pockets for papers and programmes, an opera-gla holder and a cigar holder, and a narrow mirror set between the front windows. Without body, the chassis weighs 1,300 pounds, has a wheel base of 101% inches and tread of 48%, inches, with a turning radius of 19 feet. The frame is of pressed steel, and has no bends back of the dash. It measures 8 feet from the dash to the rear end. The taximeters are circular instruments about the size of street-car fare registers. Unlike the latter, however, they are autotic in action, calculating and indicating at all stages of the trip the precise amount of fare the customer has to pay, thereby eliminating any possibility of the driver making excessive charges, and pocketing a part of the receipts for himself. Although the mechanism is complicated, the principles are readily explained and understood. Each instrument contains clockwork, which drives the gears that operate the registering dials, while the cab Is engaged but is standing still, as when waiting at a store or residence while the customer is shopping or calling. This computation by clockwork begins as soon as the passenger engages the cab and the driver turns down the small metal flag bearing the word "Vacant." But as soon as the cab begins to go, the work of driving the registering gearing is taken up by a flexible shaft, which is driven by one of the front wheels of the vehicle in the same way as a speed-indicating instrument, the speed of this shaft overrunning that of the clockwork. The indicating mechanism is similar in principle to the well-known cyclometer or odometer. On the face of the instrument, which is turned so as to be plainly visible from the inside of the cab, there are dials which indicate the "Tariff," whether No. 1 for one or two passengers, or No. 2 for three, four, or five passengers; the amount of fare to be paid and the charge for extras. On the back of the instrument are smaller openings, where figures that change automatically show the total and daily mileage covered by the machine and the hours of service for the iormation of the operating company. Since the adoption of the taximeters, the drivers are paid regular daily wages plus a percentage of the daily receipts. The other company which is operating taximeter cabs was organized last spring, and employs Darracq cabs. A first lot of thirty landaulets was received during September and October, and after being fitted with American tires, were placed in .public service, being installed first at hotel stands. The service is to be extended as further shipments are received, contracts having been made by the parent company with the Darracq works for the delivery of six hundred cabs to be shipped at the rate of seventy-five a month. They are being landed this fall at the rate of fifteen a week. Temporary quarters for their storage and care have been leased until May 1 on West 60th Street, between Broadway and Columbus Avenue. By the date named it is expected that a large garage, for which plans have been drawn and contracts let, will be completed on West 57th Street, between 11th and 12th Avenues, at an estimated cost of $250,000. It is to be 225 by 150 feet, four stories high, and fireproof. The cabs have dark green running gears, red bodies, and black leather tops. The interior is upholstered throughout in light tan-colored corduroy. Taximeters operating on the same principles as those previously described, but of different form and made under the Popp patents in Paris, are fitted to all the cabs. Only a Single tariff is charged, however, whether the cab is occupied by one or four persons, the rates being the same as under tariff No. 1 of the other company; but if a cab is dismissed north of 125th Street or anywhere outside of Manhattan Borough, a charge of 40 cents a mile is made for the return trip.
This article was originally published with the title "Taximeter Motor Cabs in America" in Scientific American 97, 19, 327-329 (November 1907)