By Keen Zhang
To provide a better service for disabled athletes and spectators at the Paralympics, the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad has brought 30 classic London TX4 cabs to Beijing.
It may look like a little fat boy, but it has built up a sterling reputation around the world over the last 70 years. Manufactured by LTI (London Taxis International), the vehicle is a purpose-built hansom cab. In January 2007, an Extraordinary General Meeting of LTI's shareholders approved a joint venture with Geely Automobile to manufacture the TX4 in China -- the TX4's are thus being manufactured outside Britain for the first time. The cab was also designated for use at the 2012 London Olympics.
Although the Beijing taxi's exterior is the same as the traditional model, with the ramp that allows a handicapped person’s wheelchair to roll into the cab, the spacious interior for passengers and luggage, and the foldable seats, the car's engine has been changed from the original diesel to gasoline. The position of the steering wheel has also been changed from right to left in accordance with Beijing's traffic regulations.
The Mayor of London himself, Boris Johnson, was driven in one of these cabs during his August 25 visit to Beijing.
In early September, the TX4's took to the road. They will be available at various Paralympics venues. After the Paralympics, the special taxis will continue to serve the public in Beijing, at the same prices as normal taxis.