The Taxi Index
There are so many indices for measuring urban success: creative jobs, low crime rates, low pollution, walkability, high education levels, happiness quotients. I would add another. Returning to Philadelphia from a trip last week I took a taxi. I sat in a beat-up car, squashed into the back seat by a crudely made security barrier plastered with scratched up decals, no air-conditioning, and to add insult to injury, the reckless driver didn’t even know the city. I had just come from LA where all the taxis I took were new Prius’s, picked me up on time, and the drivers seemed to know there way around. New York taxis are pretty good, especially the minivans, and they have useful video screens. The city will soon be getting a new Nissan taxi. OK, it’s not as good as the late lamented Checker, but it’s something. Of course the gold standard for taxis is the London black cab, well-designed, diesel-powered, roomy (it can carry 6-7 people), and driven by knowledgeable navigators. And London is a pretty successful city, too.