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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » April 30, 2010
On the town
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London-Style Cabs for Warsaw
April 30, 2010   
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Warsaw has been looking more and more like London. This has nothing to do with putting up more skyscrapers but rather the new taxis in the Wawa Taxi fleet.

The vehicles are made in China for London Taxi International and four of them have been on the streets of Warsaw since March. The body brings London’s hackney carriages to mind while the color can only be associated with New York’s iconic yellow cabs. Wawa Taxi chairman, Arkadiusz Wieczorek, however, is adamant that any similarity is purely coincidental. “I can’t make out any New York connection,” he says. “We wanted yellow and red as a reference to the official colors of Warsaw, just like the city’s trams and buses. Remember, taxis are public transport too.” The distinctive shape and the yellow and red checkered band along the body were meant to distinguish these cars from private vehicles.

Wawa Taxi’s new cars have spacious interiors that seat five people—three facing forwards and two backwards—and there is a lot of leg room. The passenger cabin is partitioned from the driver and the intercom provided for communication can be turned off at any time to ensure privacy. The rear doors also come with switches to regulate air conditioning and ventilation. Every car will additionally be equipped with a machine to process credit, payment and charge cards as well as the popular new proximity card system.

Wawa Taxi’s new vehicles will also be convenient for the disabled. These passengers will be able to get in the car via a ramp that comes out from the floor and the seat can be moved forward to facilitate boarding or moved back to make room for a wheelchair. Apart from the wheelchair, two extra people can get in.

Nor has the comfort of the driver been overlooked. The new taxis—the model is called an LTI-TX4—might have kept their electronics to a minimum but have been designed to ensure that the driver has a solid and reliable workhorse. The 4-meter turning circle is impressive for a car this size. Wieczorek points out that being built for durability and simplicity makes the vehicle cheap to run. “The startup cost is high—zl.100,000 plus LPG installation—but in the long run it’s more cost effective than replacing the fleet every three to five years, which is what we have to do with standard passenger vehicles,” he explains.

Are we going to see more London taxis in Warsaw? That all depends on whether the passengers accept them. Twenty more will appear in May. If they turn out to be popular and if there is a demand for them, then there will be another 400 in Warsaw over the next two years. The Wawa Taxi chairman is in no doubt that these are the cars of the future. “The comfort of the ride, the adjustment to urban conditions, and the environmental friendliness are all definite pluses for this model. Warsaw will be hosting the European soccer championships in a couple of years and this will be a good test for our new, expanded fleet.”
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