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Dochira made ikaremasu ka?
May 27, 2010 12:40 AM   Subscribe

Taxi top lights, called andon (行灯) in Japanese after the Edo-era wood & paper lanterns, come in a variety of shapes and colors. Although originally used in the mid-1950s to discourage robberies, andon are now used as company logos or to advertise.
posted by armage (6 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Although originally used in the mid-1950s to discourage robberies

I didn't understand that, but the "company logos" link explains:
When taxis became widespread, they were considered luxurious extravagances, enjoyed by wealthy patrons. Many robberies and other crimes targeted taxi drivers and their passengers. Then, a crime prevention law, introduced in 1954, allowed taxis to install lights that could be flashed during a hold up, to send out a distress signal.
posted by pracowity at 1:32 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Top top-light enlightenment, thank you.
posted by Abiezer at 1:50 AM on May 27, 2010


Interesting stuff. I suppose this is the origin of the "CALL 911" in taxi top lights on Washington DC taxis.
posted by exogenous at 5:55 AM on May 27, 2010


Toronto taxis have a "call 911" light that flashes on the back of the taxi... But I have routinely seen taxis with no passengers driving around with their "call 911" light flashing, so I think their usefulness is diminishing.

Do Japanese taxi drivers use their top lights to indicate whether or not they are able to take a fare? That's how they're used (and abused) here... If a taxi's light is on, that means they're on duty... And we used to get really annoyed after a night at the club at like 3am when cab drivers would turn on their light if a group of hot girls approached, but turn it off if a group of guys approached.
posted by antifuse at 9:32 AM on May 27, 2010


In San Francisco, the only purpose they serve is advertising. They are almost always on. This is why New Yorkers get so frustrated by this city, because our cabs just don't play by the rules. Or perhaps it is that they like crazy cab drivers until said cab drivers launch down a 30% grade.
posted by chemoboy at 11:08 AM on May 27, 2010


Do Japanese taxi drivers use their top lights to indicate whether or not they are able to take a fare? That's how they're used (and abused) here... If a taxi's light is on, that means they're on duty... And we used to get really annoyed after a night at the club at like 3am when cab drivers would turn on their light if a group of hot girls approached, but turn it off if a group of guys approached.

Actually, no. Most taxis have a small LED array or light box that displays one of several "statuses" depending on what switches are set on the taximeter inside the car:

空車 (kuusha): The taxi is empty and accepting fares.
賃走 (chinsou) (rarely 実車, jissha): A customer has entered the taxi and service is underway. During certain overnight periods 割増 (warimashi) is displayed, signifying that higher fares are in effect. Usually taxis carrying customers don't display anything to prevent confusion to those trying to call the taxi.
支払い (shiharai): The taxi has reached the destination and the customer is paying.
高速 (kousoku): The taxi is traveling on an expressway, which changes the meter to a purely distance-based fare calculation. (not always used)
迎車 (geisha): The taxi has been dispatched to pick up a customer; sometimes this requires an additional charge.
待 (machi): A dispatched taxi has arrived at its destination and is awaiting the customer.
(translated from the ever-helpful Wikipedia)
posted by armage at 5:31 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


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