Taxi Driver

Reader Nick Denton sends us word that the taxi lines in laissez-faire America are rubble. However, in the fascist dictatorship of London, the livery runs with a ruthless efficiency that would make Fredrick Winslow Taylor cream his galoshes.

From whence comes this clockwork? Have free-market forces made sweet, beautiful collusion? Or is this the result of top-down bureaucratic genius?

    “Have you noticed the dysfunction US taxi ranks are? One line, moves painfully slowly. At any time, there are plenty of people waiting, and often plenty of cabs. Market failure.

    At Paddington Station in London, on the other hand, an example of how things should be done. Six marked slots for six caps. Six groups of passengers are ushered from the line. You, to slot 1, you, to slot 2, etc. In a synchronized ballet of taxi and passenger, the entire fleet picks up and sets off with an efficiency that puts JFK – and every other US airport – to shame. Paddington must manage a throughput of passengers at least three times that of one of the JFK terminals.”

It’s been said before and t’will be said again, if there’s one thing Brits know, it’s how to queue.

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