Today we have a special post, we are going to talk about our roots, when did the Barcelona taxi starts, which modifications has had and some curiosities like, why is it black and yellow?
The History of Barcelona taxi starts 100 years ago, in the Middle Ages.
This service started as lessors of mules, carriages rentals, and while the industrialization advanced in Barcelona, the rental business started to open. In 1820, some carriages could be rented in some neighbourhoods of Barcelona.
In 1864, the city hall approved a Regulation with a Standards of Conduct for the drivers and, moreover, they used for first time the term “hackney coach”, that has the following definition: “car registered and numbered used for the public service rental that has a fixed stop in the street or in a square”. In 1882 this Regulation was modified to regulate the licenses and imposing the obligation of having the license number on the side of the vehicle.
In 1891, the taximeter was invented, a machine created to measure the distance and the time of each travel, but it wasn’t used until 1907.
The motor cars, successors of the carriages, appeared in Barcelona in 1906, and since 1910 we started to see taxis. The first Barcelona taxis were of Catalan brands, as Ideals or Elizade, or maybe of French brands, like Renault or Peugeot.
Even at the moment everything was done by the companies, at 1912, a citizen that had a taxi licence decided to offer the service by himself, and some of his colleagues started to do the same. This movement became popular and it created a big rivalry between companies and particulars.
From 1919, the Barcelona taxi drivers started to organize in cooperatives to compete with the companies, creating by this way the Automobile Owners Federation. In the early 20s, there were almost a thousand Barcelona taxis, and there were only a few clients. This situation makes the taxi drivers be afraid of leave the taxi stop to keep their turn. Despite this situation, it was the expansion decade for Barcelona taxis.
In 1924, the Barcelona city hall approved a new Circulation Code where, between other modifications, the taximeter was an obligation and also was an obligation to have a color line painted below the passengers cabin. The color of the line depended on the rate of the taxi: if the line was white, the rate was of 40 cts/Km, if it was red, 40 cts/Km, if it was yellow, 50 cts/Km and, if it was blue 80 cts/Km.
En 1924, the David S.A. company, created in 1914, started to have a lot of repercussion in the taxi sector. After introducing the 2p minitaxis, they achieved to be the representative of Citroën, and they started to drive a new model more comfortable, spacious and with availability for 4 passenger, the first cars ready to become a Barcelona taxi.
In 1929, near the Universal Exhibition in Barcelona, the number of Barcelona taxis grew too fast, reaching the number of 4.000 taxis. It created a big war between companies and freelancers, but this time they had to compete also with the trams, new buses and the metro. Due this situation, in 1930 the city hall imposed order in the sector establishing a single rate for the taxis, leaving only the rate of the yellow line. Since this moment, all the Barcelona taxis had to change the line of their black taxis by yellow, and nowadays we still see the Barcelona taxis being black and yellow
When the Spanish Civil War started, the CNT fixed a salary for all the taxi drivers and a workday of 8 hours per person, but soon, because of the lack of fuel and supplies, the taxi service was cancelled. The taxis returned in 1939, but they were only used by the authorities because of the lack of official vehicles. The city hall returned above 700 licenses to David company, but with some conditions, as that each travel couldn’t last more than an hour.
The Barcelona taxis returned to normality a few years later, thanks to the Taxi Industry Cooperative, that started to make some agreements with the city hall and the Department of Commerce, and in 1955, thanks to an agreement with Seat, almost all the taxis of Barcelona were renewed.
During the 60s and the 70s, the Barcelona taxi grew very quickly and reached a lot of improvements as the first radio taxi in Barcelona or some taxi stops with phone, but between all this improvements, there were a lot of political and sindical fights, and some problems between owners, employees and tenants.
In 1961, Hospitalet de Llobregat and Barcelona agreed to unify their taxis, and 10 years later other towns decided to do the same, creating like this the Barcelona Metropolitan Area, with 27 municipalities. In 1988, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, thanks to the campaign Barcelona posa’t guapa renewed the taxi fleet: they put the taximeter in a visible place for the user, air conditioning was installed on the cars, the taxis started to have light modules, and later, they began adapting some vehicles for people with wheelchairs.
In 1992, the statutes of the Metropolitan Taxi Institute (IMT) are accepted, and as it was the year of the Olympics in Barcelona, most of the drivers renewed their vehicles again. The crisis hit the sector in 1993-1994. In 1995 the IMT began to create a plan for restructuring the system, and in 1998 the “Feasibility and Modernization Plan” was adopted to improve the sector.
Nowadays we can find Barcelona taxis with availability up to 6 passengers.