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The Evolution of Taxi Services in Sydney

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Taxis have continued to be one of the most cost-effective modes of transportation across Sydney for over a century. It has been a staple of Sydney’s identity, starting from horse-drawn carriages to modern electric vehicles that signify the importance of environmental sustainability. Let’s look at the history and evolution of taxi services in Sydney.

The Horse-Drawn Carriages

The first form of taxi across Sydney started operating in the early 1800s as horse-drawn carriages, with its first registration in 1873. These privately owned carriages instantly became a popular mode of transport for the locals. Initially known as the hansom cabs, these two-wheeled carriages were considered the best Sydney taxis​. They had a smaller compartment for the passengers and a raised compartment for the driver. These were also seen as a symbol of luxury because these handsome cabs used to be expensive. The horse-drawn carriages were later used to transport people and goods to the railway station and around the city. The last horse-drawn carriage in Sydney was licensed in 1937.

An interesting fact to remember is that many horse-driven carriages were painted yellow, which is why modern taxis are also painted yellow to distinguish themselves from other modes of transport. It also led to the forming of the first Sydney taxi company, the Yellow Cab Company.

The Era Of Automobiles

Sydney was one of the first global cities to adopt motorised taxis in 1906. Some models of Renault and Ford were initially used, while luxury sedans were used later for taxi services. The development of new suburbs, the increase in population, and the rising popularity of automobiles led to the widespread adoption of taxi companies over horse carriages.

With time, taxis started using taxi metres in 1938, two-way radio service in the 1980s, and acceptance of card payments in the 1990s. Taxi services have continued to evolve, including ridesharing services through mobile applications.


When taxi services started in Australia, over 1,000 horse-drawn carriages provided luxury transport services to citizens. In the present era, there are over 6,000 taxis across Sydney, as per the New South Wales Taxi Industry Association. Most are standard taxis, while only 25% are luxury limousines or sedans.

Interestingly, in recent years, the number of electric taxis has steadily risen, with the New South Wales government giving financial incentives to companies who shift their fleet to all-electric.

Types of Services

As highlighted, taxi services began with transportation for people within the city and movement of goods from railway stations or the harbour. The overall scope of services evolved with the inception of luxury sedans and vans.

Now, taxi services have expanded towards specialist airport and office transfer services. Taxi companies provide itinerary tracking and luggage transfers, making it cost-effective and convenient for travellers. Many taxi services use luxury sedans and limousines to make corporate journeys easy and special events such as weddings and concerts memorable. At the same time, they also offer minivans and maxi vans for optimal group transfers. The reduced costs and competitive fares provide tourists with a cost-effective alternative for sightseeing around Sydney, compared to renting cars and paying parking fees.

Recently, child safety has become a notable priority among taxi companies and customers, primarily those who travel with small kids. The Aussie Baby Taxi is a company that provides taxis with baby seats to ensure Australian child seat safety standards are followed.


The city of Sydney has seen taxi services evolve as technology evolves. Sydney has one of the best taxi services, from horse-drawn carriages to electric vehicles and luxury limousines. Taxis have a notable advantage over ridesharing companies as taxis are available 24/7 and provide luggage services to travellers with competitive fares and super customer services.

A Comprehensive Guide to Taxi ServicesA Day in the Life of a Sydney Taxi Driver

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