Within a few short years of their appearance on the streets of Chicago, Yellow Cabs became a common sight on the streets of four of Australia's capital cities. Legendary American businessmen such as John Hertz (later of rental car fame) and Joseph Kennedy (father of a future president) were involved in the early days of the Yellow Cab Company in the USA. In March 1965, Trips 'n' Tips published an article on Yellow Cabs celebrating 50 years of service to the public.
P.W. Tewksbury registered Yellow Cabs of Australasia Limited on the 10th March 1924. He negotiated for an Australian franchise and the right to import cabs from the USA. On 15th October 1924, 100 imported American Yellow Cabs took to the streets of Melbourne. Large advertisements in the city's daily papers stressed the new economy of travel (1/3 for the first third mile and 6d for every third mile thereafter, 9d for every passenger who travels 2 miles or over, 6d for every 5 minutes of waiting and no charges for children under 12 years of age).
The Melbourne Herald was suitably impressed and this article appeared on the front page in late 1924.
"The outstanding feature of this new taxicab service from the public point of view is that the cabs are fitted with taxi-meters, which tick off the fare as you go along. Thus, as in most other big world cities, the taxi patron knows exactly what he is going to pay."
"The trim yellow vehicles challenged the eye in the street today. Driven by men wearing smart brown uniforms, the cabs glistening in their brand new coats of paint, made a vivid picture against the drab background of the city."
"Melbourne people were able to do what Londoners have done for years - to hail a taxi in the street."
In the next year, Yellow Cab companies were formed in Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane. Fifty Yellow Cabs started in Brisbane and the company's phone number was Central 1111 and within a year, there were 155 taxis. Such slogans as "Get the habit - Yellow Cab it" and "The thinking fellow calls a Yellow" were used to advertise the company.
In the following years, Yellow Cabs were acquired by Reel Cabs, became Reel Yellow Cabs and in 1931, the Morgan family bought the company and it became known as Town Taxis operating Yellow Cabs. The company struggled through the depression but this gave way to the boom years of the Second World War with American servicemen having plenty of spare cash to spend. This was the hey-day of the individual operator and there was little incentive for a taxi owner to remain contracted to a company. In 1946, Town Taxis was wound up and the solitary Yellow was sold to N Turner.
In 1952, the chairman of directors of Ampol Oil visited Brisbane and the company bought this sole Yellow Cab. Within months, there were eight Yellow drivers on the road with an office at the corner of Hope and Peel streets at South Brisbane. Ampol made generous offers of finance to potential employees and was soon luring drivers from the other taxi companies in Brisbane. These companies resolved that any taxi licencee who joined Yellow Cabs be automatically expelled from the Taxi Cab Owner Drivers' Association.
This started a 15-year period where the taxi drivers and companies showed open animosity to each other.
The company offered a four-penny reduction on other cab companies' rates and this led to increased patronage by the public to the detriment of the other companies. By October 1953, there were 50 Yellow Cabs and the office was now located at 330 Vulture Street East Brisbane.
In 1962, Ampol made a successful bid for Yellow Cabs Holdings (a national Yellow Cab company) as well as Yellow Cabs (W.A.) Limited and extended its ventures into the regional cities of Queensland. The company offices moved to 116 Logan Road Woolloongabba. The communications base had a couple of two-way radio operators, three telephonists and dispatched 2000 radio calls per day to 130 taxis. By 1968, 5000 radio calls per day were being dispatched to 240 taxis.
In the 1970s, Yellow Cabs continued to grow under the management of Bill Erdman. Holdens were the predominant vehicle of choice for taxi owners at this time. By the end of the decade, there were 540 Yellow Cabs in Brisbane but Fords now comprised the greater part of the fleet. At this time, the majority of the taxi fleet changed from being petrol to LPG.
In 1981, Ampol was acquired by Pioneer, which divested itself of the taxi company. It was bought in part by Southside Yellow Taxi Depot Pty Ltd and Taxi Combined Systems Pty Ltd. Seven years later, Southside Yellow Taxi Depot Pty Ltd became the sole owner with Neill Ford (in 2010, Yellow Cabs Qld Pty Ltd Managing Director), Howard Healey and Bill Erdman as equal partners. In 1989, when Bill Erdman retired, he sold his interests to the other partners.
The 1980s were a period of growth. The Commonwealth Games and World Expo regenerated Brisbane's nightlife; the introduction of random breathalysers was a major incentive to use a cab. The value of taxi licences soared increasing by 700% in ten years.
After Expo finished, the recession, the pilot's strike and the large increase in oil prices led to tough times.
The other major cab company in Brisbane went into receivership but Yellow Cabs survived.
In January 1993, computer dispatch was introduced. This increased the fleet's efficiency and the waiting time for customers was slashed. Within 3 years, the introduction of technology had led to a growth in demand of 100%.
Yellow Cabs has been at the forefront of new technology and new services in the last 20 years. The introduction of EFTPOS, GPS dispatch, Yellow Couriers, Maxi Taxis and Silver Service keeps Yellow Cabs as the market leader.
In 2010, there are 1100 Yellow Cabs working in the Brisbane taxi district plus fleets in Ipswich, Redcliffe, Toowoomba, Warwick and Hobart, Yellow Cabs Qld Pty Ltd is still creating history with the introduction of the latest computer dispatch system by Australian company - MT Data and the latest Avaya IP based PBX which will see the companies customer service visions realised into the future.....