Business
3:07 am
Fri October 26, 2012

Iconic British Cab Company Is On The Skids

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And today's last word in business is Cab crisis.

One of London's defining features is the black hackney cab. Along with the city's red double-decker buses, those shiny black cabs are moving London landmarks. But the company that makes them is in trouble.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Unable to pay its debts, the company this week went into what's called there, Administration. Harry Harris has been driving a London cab for 25 years, but he's not too broken up about this.

HARRY HARRIS: The economics of the cab trade, now, just don't work out with one company producing this vehicle. And because the London taxi company has had a monopoly, it's never been made as good as a car and the workmanship is nowhere near up to scratch.

MONTAGNE: Harry Harris would like to find a way to keep them on the road.

INSKEEP: But, he says, that cabs are less important than the cabbies because of a test they take called The Knowledge - or The Knowledge.

HARRIS: ...which encompasses learning every single road, street, building, park, major monument in London. You'll be regularly tested on the way that you're progressing through that. And I think it takes about four years, now, to get a license. You know, it's probably the equivalent of studying some kind of academic degree.

MONTAGNE: So, if you visit London, the driver should get you where you're going, no matter what the taxi looks like.

INSKEEP: And that's the business news on MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

MONTAGNE: And I'm Renee Montagne. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.