Don't bother yelling 'Taxi!' in Saudi Arabia anymore

Saudi woman boards taxi in Riyadh
Saudi Arabia's Transport Ministry has come up with a novel way to cut traffic in the kingdom's congested cities: Taxis will now be banned from cruising the streets and picking up passengers without an advance booking.

The new policy, announced Friday, is part of a major revamping of the taxi system that will require drivers to install an Automated Vehicle Locator in their cars. The Big Brother-like device will allow authorities to track their every movement. Unauthorized stops, excessive speeds or driving without an assigned passenger pickup can lead to fines up to $1,300 or license revocation for repeat offenders,  Al Madina newspaper reported.

The new monitoring system was necessary to limit the number of vehicles on busy streets in the two main urban centers of the kingdom, Riyadh and Jeddah, where 31,000-plus taxis are licensed to operate, the newspaper said.

The change is expected to primarily affect women, who are prohibited from driving in Saudi Arabia and banned from bus travel on most urban routes as well.

Anyone wanting a taxi -- even from heavily traveled venues like airports and shopping centers -- will have to call in advance to get a car dispatched, Al Arabiya news agency reported.

Neither news story specified when the new tracking system would go into effect.

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Photo: Saudi women are dependent on taxis for travel and errand-running as the kingdom prohibits women from driving, and most urban bus travel is exclusively for men. Credit: Fayez Nureldine / AFP/Getty Images


Priciest accident ever? $31-million Ferrari crashes in France

It was a prized Ferrari, one of a rare model known as the “Picasso of motoring” that is often included by elite automobile magazines among the top wheels in the world.

Now its owner, American businessman Christopher Cox, has a new and less desirable distinction: Driver in what could be the most costly car crash ever seen.

The Ferrari 250 GTO smashed into another car last week during a parade of pricey race cars through France, breaking the leg of his wife Ann Cox and sending two passengers in the other car to the hospital, the British newspaper Metro reported.

The hospital bills can hardly compare to the estimated worth of the unusual blue-and-yellow-Ferrari, believed to boast a price tag of more than $31 million. A mint-green Ferrari of the same kind sold for $35 million last month, blowing past earlier Guinness records for the coveted car.

The crashed car was one of only 39 in existence; the model was made for only a few years in the ‘60s. Twenty-three of the Ferraris were touring France, motoring from chateau to chateau for the 50th anniversary of the rarefied race car and finishing at the Le Mans Classic, according to Sports Car Digest.

It was not clear how badly the car was damaged. As word of the accident trickled out, Ferrari enthusiasts were glued to news, hoping the treasured car could be salvaged. The car crashed once before, in 1976, the Sun reported, but was fully restored before Cox bought it in 2005.

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