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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cairo Taxis - The End of an Era

In years past, one of the first things visitors to Cairo would notice was the taxi fleet.  The small black and white taxis are everywhere.

They are small enough to glide through Cairo traffic:

But that can be a two-edged sword.  They are a bit cramped:

Especially when it comes to leg room.

Although the larger models have more space:

But their most notable characteristic is age.  And now, according to this article in the New York Times, taxis over twenty years old will not be allowed to renew their licenses:
Under a law passed earlier this year, the authorities will not renew the licenses of any taxis older than 20 years, which may be the majority on the clogged, polluted streets of Cairo.
The fleet of Russian-made Lada 1300s, Cold War-era Romanian Dacia 1300s and Turkish Sahins may not rule the streets much longer in Cairo, where passengers pay what they wish for a ride in the meter-less contraptions.

This year, we have ridden in a couple of the new checkered pattern cabs, like this one.

I was more than shocked to find the meter working in a taxi.  Negotiating a price for a taxi ride is a big part of the Cairo tourist culture.  Ten pounds, about $2 will get you a two mile ride under most circumstances.  The meter yields the same result but with a lot less fun.

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