Winnipeg Cab History / 52: Jitneys (4)
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Jitney ads from the 1915 (left) and 1917 (right) Winnipeg telephone books. The two booking services, Jitney Despatch and the Jitney Order Office signal the rapid evolution of jitneys from hit-and-run pirates to well-organized cooperative enterprises.


Left: Manitoba Government Telephones, Official Telephone Directory, No. 23, June, 1915, Classified Business Directory p. 33. Right: Official Telephone Directory. No. 29, July, 1917, Classified Business Directory p. 43.

Winnipeg Cab History / 52

Jitneys (4)

The jitneys revolutionized the cab business in two more ways. First, they disproved the business assumptions on which the established or "old line" taxi firms were founded.

The jitneys demonstrated that a taxi business did not need expensive cars, meters, uniformed drivers, switchboards or hotel concessions. In doing so they showed prospective taxi operators how to dramatically lower their costs of doing business.

Affordable startup costs attracted large numbers of people into the cab business and it was the proliferation of taxi companies that fueled cut-throat competition during the '20s and '30s.

The jitneys attracted so many entrepreneurs that in 1915 there were 663 cars operating as taxis. The competition evidently drove some jitneys out of the business because the number dropped to 450 by 1917. In 1918, the year of the jitney ban, the number of cars dropped to 172.


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