were one of the first pieces of equipment produced for the taxi driver.......

On 23rd March 1907 seventeen motor driven cabs left the General Motor Cab Company Garage (later the London General Cab Company) at 1-3 Brixton Road, Brixton. These first "motor taxis" were fitted with a "taximeter" – a clockwork device linked to the wheels which showed the distance travelled and the fare – hence the term "taxi-cabs" and the word "Taxi" used all over the world.

The common taxi meter as found in many taxis and private hire vehicles has in the past 30 to 40 years been transformed from a clockwork mechanical machine to an on board computer.

In those early years of microprocessors where external chip memory was used, the tariff was also held in external memory chips so in came the phase ‘ please re chip my meter to the new tariff ’ and although meters moved out of the era of using these chips long ago, same taxi drivers still refer to the changing of the tariffs in their meter as re-chipping, whereas all that is happening is a small program and packet of data is uploaded to his meter. As the meter is a computer, its functions and facility range provided to the taxi driver is down to the meter manufacturers programmers skills. Even after a taxi meter has been out on the market, some manufactures will bring out new program routines to enhance the meters features which can be uploaded to meters that are already in use. This has led to some meters providing the bare minimum and others have an endless list of options, some even check if the roof light bulbs are ok or show the maximum speed the vehicle has done, useful if you hire your beloved vehicle out to a jockey / jouneyman and you’ve told him to not thrash it to bits.

With the coming of the ‘ on board computer taxi meter has come more complex tariffs. A progressive tariff which is now used in some areas changes its rate per mile at different distances ( even now some new meters cannot do this ) but the major step is the ‘calendar tariff’ which changes the tariff the meter is running at the required day and time. This means the meter not only has to have the tariff charges, it also has to have an on board calendar containing public and bank holidays as well as a real time clock. The driver does not select the tariffs making this popular with licensing authorities that try to protect the public from drivers that accidentally select the wrong tariff ( normally, higher ones ). Because some of these dates are not fixed each year, this information being only available about 2 years ahead, the tariff becomes useless once these dates have passed. It will still go on using Monday to Sunday tariffs but it will not know the dates of the bank holidays and will carry on using normal day tariffs for these.


Most meters that can operate the calendar tariffs (calendar taxi meters) can also operate solely manual tariffs, a combination of manual and calendar or just calendar tariffs. It is very wise to buy or hire a calendar meter even if you are in an area that operates manual tariffs as one day, everybody will be running calendar tariffs as more licensing authorities protect the public more.



Cygnus, Hale, Digitax, Taxitronic, Halda, Rem, Viking and Aquila are some of the makes of taxi meters available today although some still have models from years ago that were good in thier day but now are a bit dated in operation and facilities, but however good the meter you have is, ( and there is still some rubbish out there or makes that are reported to have more faults than others) you need to have it installed properly with good back up service. Without a meter working correctly, your vehicle is off the road!


How the Meters Work

Taxi Meters are a must for the taxi driver if he wants to charge for his time and running costs / profit consistently. There are two parts to the computation of the fare, the tariff and the calibration of the meter to the measured mile.

The meter uses distance pulses from the vehicle, which comes from a transducer (a unit that converts movement to electrical pulses) which is connected to the drive mechanism. Although many modern vehicles work on a Can (computer) system to save wiring, there is always a transducer somewhere in the vehicle that converts vehicle movement to distance pulses which is used to drive the speedo.

When a meter is first fitted to a vehicle, it has to know how many pulses it will receive from the vehicle for either a mile, if the tariff is worked out in miles, or a kilometre if the tariff is worked out in metric. The meter is then 'Calibrated' over this fixed distance. This figure will be used throughout the life of the vehicle and will only need changing if the size of the wheels are changed. If the transducer used is on the gearbox, changing the gearbox ratio or differential may also change the figure. The other part of the equation is the Tariff which is a software and data packet which has normally been produced by the meters manufacturers' computer program.

The meter uses the drivers button pressing, the calibration figure and the tariff information to make a real time calculation of the fare. In addition, if the meter is running a calendar tariff, it will also use its on board real time clock and a look up tariff table for the fare calculations.

You can use our Tariff Tables to produce or check your tariffs.

Purchase or Hire Taxi Meters


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