History of Yellow Cab
Yellow Cab was founded by John Hertz in 1915 with surplus used cars from his car dealership and is now the oldest and largest continuously operating cab company in North America. Hertz had experts determine that yellow was the most visible color, so he painted all of his taxicabs yellow starting a tradition that continues today. When Hertz left the cab business in 1929 to start his rental car company, he incorporated the color yellow into his signage which remains a part of the Hertz Car Rental logo today.
Color choice was only one of Hertz's accomplishments as a cab owner. He installed the first traffic lights in the City of Chicago on Michigan Avenue. The city was so enamored with the resulting improvement in traffic conditions that they expanded the program and repaid Yellow for the expense of installing the original lights. Hertz's company devised a manual windshield wiper for its cabs that was soon replaced with the first automatic windshield wiper. Hertz also liked the new Firestone balloon tire, which provided a more comfortable ride for passengers. He converted all of his cabs to wider rimmed wheels to accommodate the tires, and Yellow's use of the new tires helped make them a success.
At the same time, Morris Markin, a Russian immigrant and owner of Commonwealth Motors, which later became Checker Motors, was working with independent taxicab owners to build Checker Cab Affiliation in Chicago. He also purchased cab companies in Minneapolis, New York City, and Pittsburgh. In 1929 Markin bought 60 percent ownership in Yellow Cab, including all of John Hertz's holdings, and in a few years Markin's group had control of both Checker and Yellow Cab in Chicago. By 1935, they had converted Checker Taxi from an affiliation to a corporation and had taken Yellow Cab from a publicly held to a privately held company.
Yellow changed corporate hands a few times over the years and then in 2005, Michael Levine, a taxicab operator from New York City, purchased controlling interest in Yellow Cab. In 2006, Levine and his partner Patton Corrigan, one of the former owners of Yellow Cab, also purchased the assets of Checker Cab out of bankruptcy. Years earlier Checker had been spun off from the parent company, Checker Motors. Since 2005, Yellow and its sister companies have grown to the over 2600 vehicle fleet they are today, expanding into the Chicago suburbs and across state lines.
Today Yellow continues its long tradition of innovation. In addition to stoplights and wipers, Yellow was the first cab company to install seat belts in the back of its cabs and the first to utilize antilock brake systems. Yellow had one of the first digital dispatch systems in the City of Chicago, and its current electronic systems, including automated call answering with voice recognition, a digital dispatch system with Global Positioning (GPS) built in, and instantaneous credit card acceptance with a swipe in the rear seat, are second to none worldwide. Yellow is also testing new greener vehicles such as the Ford Escape hybrid and the Toyota Scion, and working with Clean Energy, T. Boone Pickens' natural gas company, to install CNG stations and test CNG taxicabs in Chicago.
Yellow Cab is involved in numerous civic and charitable organizations in Chicago. It has underwritten an English as a second language course for drivers throughout the Chicago City Colleges, created and supported a summer tennis program for inner city youth throughout the Chicago Park District providing scholarships for drivers, their spouses and children, and supported numerous other charities in the Chicagoland area.