Winnipeg Cab History / 72: World War II
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Three Québec City women set off by taxi for their jobs at a munitions plant in 1942. The wartime restrictions on gasoline plus increased economic activity made taxis more profitable than they had been in perhaps two decades.


"Perry sisters, female munitions workers who work for the Dominion Arsenals Ltd. plant, take a taxi to work from their apartment," August 24, 1942. Photo credit: Harry Rowed / National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque / Library and Archives Canada / PA-112824. (Accessible online at the Library and Archives Canada web site: search on "PA-112824".

Winnipeg Cab History / 72

World War 2

It was World War II that snuffed out the last embers of the great taxi war of the 1920s and 1930s. The Federal Department of Munitions and Supply established several "controllers" to oversee wartime industries for the purpose of increasing efficiency and conserving strategic materials.

The taxi industry fell within the purview of the Transit Controller who imposed several measures designed to conserve tires and gasoline.

The number of licensed taxis in Winnipeg was reduced to 266 (there had been 414 in 1929). Taxis were subject to gas rationing and were also forbidden to take trips longer than 15 miles.

Other factors also had an impact on the taxi industry. Reductions in automobile production caused taxi fleets to shrink from attrition. Large numbers of taxi cab drivers enlisted in the armed forces and others were absorbed by war industries.

While these factors were restricting the availability of taxis, the explosion of economic activity spurred by the war effort increased ridership enormously. As a result the taxi industry was suddenly profitable again.

So great was the unfilled demand for taxis that the Transit Controller induced taxi companies in each city to pool their resources and create central telephone switchboards and dispatch offices to make more efficient use of the combined taxi fleet. Shared riding was not only made legal, it was encouraged as a patriotic duty.


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