The Inviolable Laws of the Workday

There’s a great article in the New York Times today titled Where Do All the Cabs Go in the Late Afternoon? which cites the following as the reason that taxi cab shifts switchover between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.:

The explanation for the 5 p.m. dip is steeped in the history and economics of the taxi industry. Many taxicabs are used by two drivers a day, each working a 12-hour shift. To ensure that each leg is equally attractive, taxi owners schedule the shift change in the middle of the afternoon, so each shift gets a rush hour.

But the switch can’t happen too early, either: a 2 p.m. changeover, for instance, would require a day driver to start his 12-hour shifts in the wee hours of the morning. And cabbies say the midafternoon offers brisk business not evident 12 hours later, when fares mainly consist of late-night revelers.

I love it when systems design bumps up against inviolable limits like “there are only 24 hours in a day” and “people gotta sleep.”

Exactly the same logic led Oliver and I to select Bathurst, New Brunswick as the destination for our 2007 late-summer vacation, the one where I vowed that we wouldn’t involve any automobiles in our transportation.

We were catching the VIA train north from Moncton, and we needed a destination where the arriving train didn’t arrive too late at night and where the departing train, 3 days later, didn’t leave at some unholy hour in the morning. Bathurst fit the bill perfectly.


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