London's Stodgy Cabs Get Overhaul

Classic black taxis could be phased out for minivans
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 2, 2008 6:36 AM CDT
London's classic black cabs are being phased out for a more ecologically friendly Mercedes-designed minivan.   (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)
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(Newser) – London's black cabs, with their jump seats and garrulous drivers, are one of the emblems of the city. But they're also gas-guzzling polluters, reports the New York Times, so this month the eco-conscious British capital is introducing a new taxi to its streets: a minivan designed by Mercedes that bears little resemblance to the classic black cab.

The new taxi can carry six passengers, but detractors argue its carbon emissions aren't significantly better than the black cabs. And after earlier moves to eliminate London's red phone booths and hop-on-hop-off buses, traditionalists are worried about the loss of another icon. "We’d lose our identity," said one cab driver, who said the Mercedes has "no distinction to any privately hired car."