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Centralized taxi branding vs. decentralized ride fulfillment

Back in 2013, when this blog was in its infancy, I argued that Toronto needs a consistent taxi brand. Since nobody was reading the blog at the time, I am sure that most of you have never read this post. I even forgot about it, until last night when I posted this photo of Hong Kong to Instagram:

It reminded me of the role that taxis play in city branding. This photo is clearly of Hong Kong. But take away the taxis in the foreground and I would really have to think in order to identity it. I would then be searching for street signs and looking to see what side of the road the cars are driving on.

Now, a few things have changed since 2013. Back then I didn’t have the same appreciation for decentralized ride hailing (Uber and Lyft), though I did have the same distaste for the taxi cartel. And I recognize that there is a tension between centralized taxi branding and a decentralized approach to ride fulfillment. 

I’m not exactly sure how to solve this problem, but maybe it gets easier with autonomous vehicles and probable changes to the way consumers own, or don’t own cars. I believe it’s important for places and cities to have specificity. If you have any thoughts, please leave a comment below. 

(I am trying to respond to all comments on this blog, because I’m finding it impossible to respond to all blog related emails. Sorry.)

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