Illegal Taxicab Operation - Terminology


A variety of terms are used in the industry to describe legal and illegal transportation providers. Hacks or Hackers is a common term that originated with the hackney horse, a breed of horse typically offered for hire in the 19th century. Other terms used are gypsy cab, livery cab, car service, or jitney cab. The phrases vary by locality and often refer to different classes of licensed transportation providers. For example, in Philadelphia a cab driver's license is called a hacker's license, while in New York City livery cabs are licensed for telephone dispatch only.

In London illegal cabs are called gray cabs, as the licensed legal cabs are called black cabs. Usually black is associated with black market, but in this case the black cabs are the legal ones, officially called Licensed Hackney Carriages. In Lagos, Nigeria, illegal cabs are usually referred to as "Kabu kabu".

In Hong Kong, illegal cabs are usually referred to as white card due to different plate appearance between commercial and non-commercial vehicles.

In Malaysia, illegal taxicabs are called prebet sapu (sweep privates).

In Norway and Denmark, an illegal cab is called pirattaxi, "pirate taxi".

In Trinidad and Tobago illegal taxis are referred to as "PH" cars. This is because of the coding used on licence plates to distinguish between private cars from taxis. On a private car's licence plate, the number begins with a "P" (for private) while on taxis the licence plates begin with an "H" (for hired). Thus the slang "PH" indicates an informal blend of the two states.

In St. Catharines, Ontario an illegal cab is called a "speedy cab". They offer rides of 8 dollars anywhere in town, and flat rates outside of town are also offered. Due to the high rate the legal taxis cost, speedy cabs are very popular amongst the retired, elderly, and generally fixed income people; many college students also use the system.

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