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Vas-y Joe

01/11/2007 - par Mark Tungate

Taking a taxi is an atrocious experience in most cities around the world. I've been lost in a taxi on the outskirts of Cairo, with a driver who seemed to think I wanted to go to Alexandria. (The deafening chaabi music and menacing smell of gasoline did not help.) I've taken an illegal cab late at night in London, only to discover that the driver was even drunker than me. I've been dropped at the wrong address in a place called Red Hook, Brooklyn. And I've been in the back of a taxi that crashed into another vehicle in Beirut (when the drivers started fighting, I scurried off without paying).

Paris taxis present a particular kind of agony. I've rarely met a driver who seems to enjoy his work. This lunchtime was a case in point. The taxi I took from Grands ­Boulevards to boulevard Murat was festooned with media, of a sort. It consisted of hand-written signs warning me, in capital letters, not to smoke, not to eat food, not to use my mobile phone and always to have the right change. Meanwhile, of course, I was forced to listen to RTL at full blast.

I thought about how nice it would be if taxis provided genuine media for their clients. The latest magazines would be a good start. Or how about a TV screen showing short sponsored films about the latest exhibitions and restaurants ? Extra income for the driver, more fun for us. But bearing in mind that most of them don't even have the technology to take credit cards, I'm not holding my breath.

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Vas-y Joe

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