Don’t expect taxis to like self-driving cabs

No Business Ever Welcomed A Disruptor, As This Story Shows

Back in 1899, the tourist town of Torquay was beginning to see charabancs or small, open buses introduced by a London firm, but the locals — those engaged in the tourism business — were unhappy. Why? Because the buses, which made travel cheaper for tourists, also hit their earnings. They could not have cried about losing their butter, so the taxi owners attacked the buses with specious complaints about speeding and unattractive looks.

The original 1899 report:

Certain inhabitants of Torquay — that centre of almost rabid conservatism — are up in arms at the “furious driving” of motor-cars along the Strand and the Torbay Road, whilst others are also up in arms against the “design and appearance” of the car. As regards the design, we understand that they are charabancs, designed to carry nine persons, propelled by 4 hp nominal Daimler engines, and speeded only to 12 miles per hour on the fast speed, so that “furious driving” would not appear possible, excepting the streets were overcrowded, which is not alleged.

One correspondent in a local paper asks: “Why should Torquay be chosen as an experiment for these cars in their present crude and unfinished condition?” But the correspondent does not allege that the cars are inefficient, nor that they show any faults in travelling.

The truth of the matter is that the inhabitants, or rather natives, of Torquay are so used to battening and feeding on visitors, and so religiously keep in their own hands any and every possible means of “bleeding” visitors, that they resent the advent of any “outsider” who seeks to derive a profit from those preserves which they look upon as their own. If the cars had been run by a local man, or a body of local men, all would have been well; but unfortunately they are run by a London firm. Hence these tears!

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