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Hackney carriage

In the United Kingdom, a hackney carriage was originally a horse-drawn carriage which operated as a vehicle for hire. Today, a hackney carriage (also known as a black cab) is a taxicab which is allowed to ply the streets looking for passengers to pick up, as opposed to minicabs, which are allowed only to pick up passengers who have booked or from specially allocated taxi ranks. The vehicles currently used are quite large, and can usually hold 6 passengers in the back, with another in the front, and can often accomodate wheelchairs.

A Hackney Carriage

In London, Hackney Carriage drivers have to pass a test called The Knowledge to demonstrate they have an intimate knowledge of London streets.

The first Hackney Carriages were licenced in 1662, and were at the time literally horse-drawn carriages. During the 20th century these were generally replaced with cars, and the last horse-drawn Hackney carriage was withdrawn from service in 1947.

The name derives not from Hackney in London, but from the French word haquenée, referring to the horse that was pulling it. The New York terms "hackstand" (taxi stand) and "hack license" (taxi license) likely derive from "hackney carriage."

See also