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Contradiction: taxis are/are not public transportEdit

This article (public transport) explicitly states that taxis are not public transport. The taxi article states that taxis are a mode of public transport. Which of these is verifiable with authoritative citations? (Not mere examples of word use). To prove your case, provide citations. Thank you.    The Transhumanist 11:43, 30 January 2018 (UTC)

Contradiction: vehicles for hire are/are not public transportEdit

Taxicabs are the main type of vehicle for hire. The Category:Public transport by mode includes Category:Vehicles for hire. The article Public transport states that taxis are not public transport. Which is correct? Back your answers with authoritative citations (dictionary entries, statements from textbooks, scientific/engineering journals, etc.), please.    The Transhumanist 11:56, 30 January 2018 (UTC)

Contradiction: public transport is/is not shared transportEdit

The article Public transport says it is shared transport. The article shared transport describes this mode as distinct from public transport.    The Transhumanist 16:33, 30 January 2018 (UTC)

There's public transport and private transport. What form of transport are taxis?Edit

I look forward to your answers. (Please {{ping}} me).    The Transhumanist 13:50, 29 January 2018 (UTC)

@The Transhumanist: I think you're over-stretching the need for a direct antonym here. There's "public transport"; but that does not mean that we have a meaningful category called "private transport"; that terminology is just not used. Public transport indicates that taxicabs are not considered public transport, though the article taxicab, by its use of the word "other" in the phrase "other public transport" indicates that they are sometimes so considered. --Jayron32 13:54, 29 January 2018 (UTC)
Jayron, the article private transport also excludes taxis, and refers to them as a form of public transport.
Category:Vehicles for hire, which include taxis, is in turn included in Category:Public transport by mode. So, if taxis are mode of public transport, they need to be included in the public transport article.
Somehow, the contradiction needs to be fixed.    The Transhumanist 14:05, 29 January 2018 (UTC)
The article private transport contains zero indication that it is a real concept outside of Wikipedia. It looks entirely like someone saw the article "public transport" and decided on their own that the antonymic term needed an article, and so created one without regard for whether or not it was a legitimate concept. I see no evidence that it is. --Jayron32 15:15, 29 January 2018 (UTC)
  • It depends where in the world you are. "Public transport" has two meanings: transport available to the public (which taxis are) or transport potentially shared at the time of use by several members of the public (which usually also implies a fixed route, not a route of the passenger's choice). Taxis are the first - so are private hire minicabs (a big distinction in the UK) or limo hire. Here in the UK, I can only 'hail' a car on the street if it's a taxi (which requires onerous licensing). If I book in advance though, or go to a minicab office, I can have a less regulated (although still regulated) minicab. Uber have further blurred this difference.
WP seems to have taken the other definition, which excludes taxis. This is usually a North American distinction - 'taxis' are socially acceptable to most classes of people, but it's a failure in middle class life to be reduced to 'riding the bus'.
Yet in many countries, taxis are little more than very small buses. It's common to share them with other passengers, sometimes when coincidentally going in the same direction, sometimes when travelling a regular fixed route. This is common worldwide, everywhere from Belfast to South Africa. Andy Dingley (talk) 14:07, 29 January 2018 (UTC)
@Andy Dingley: I moved the section on auto rickshaws from public transport to shared transport, but I'm not sure that's correct.    The Transhumanist 14:12, 29 January 2018 (UTC)
I'm with Andy on this one. In my understanding, public transport refers to all sorts of transport you don't own yourself, including taxicabs, rickshaws, livery vehicles, etc. If you're paying for a per-use ride of the vehicle and someone else is driving it, it is public transportation. --Jayron32 15:18, 29 January 2018 (UTC)
In (a pay site) I'm seeing references to the term "private transport" at least as far back as 1950. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 15:28, 29 January 2018 (UTC)

@The Transhumanist:, it's a mistake to think that all forms of transport must be either public or private. As with any other division, people and things can move between different classes. A taxi is usually privately owned, and at most times it's also privately hired, and if so it's essentially a form of private transport. But it can also be publicly owned and can be used to provide public transport: for instance, a railway company can use taxis to complete its passengers' railway journeys when something goes wrong. You could say a taxi is sui generis. Moonraker (talk) 15:26, 29 January 2018 (UTC)

Well, that's what the crux of the confusion here is, which is the meaning of the adjective public. Does it refer to being owned by the public (i.e. the state) or does it refer to being usable by the public (i.e. available for anyone to use so long as they pay the price of use). As far as I know, public transport usually refers to the latter; actual ownership of the vehicle is not what is considered (that is, non-state companies may own and manage public transport resources). But, because there is a difference in perceieved meaning, there will be a difference in classification. Once again, as always, this is why simplistic, binary definitions aren't interesting or useful. --Jayron32 17:08, 29 January 2018 (UTC)

Jayron32 That is mostly correct but doesn't take us far. As you say, the ownership doesn't make a real difference, although it might help to show a general character that isn't private. The essence of public transport is that it is available for public use by more than one member of the public at a time. Usually there is a fixed route and some kind of timetable. A taxi doesn't have a fixed route or a timetable, and usually it is hired privately by one person. It's a mistake to think that everything can be divided neatly into "public" and "private" (especially foolish with colleges and universities, for instance), but taxis don't have much in common with public transport except that someone pays to make a journey. That can also be true of hiring a car to drive from A to B, but I don't think anyone would suggest a rented car is public transport. Moonraker (talk) 17:25, 29 January 2018 (UTC)

@Moonraker and Jayron32: There are 2 word forms here: the idiom, and the literal interpretation of two concatenated words. "Public transport" the idiom means "a system of vehicles such as buses and trains that operate at regular times on fixed routes and are used by the public". But that doesn't mean a speaker of English can't put the two words together using their base definitions (that's what words are for), and so "public transport" can be used in communications to mean "modes of transportation open to the public". Now, all we need to do is find examples of both, from authoritative sources.    The Transhumanist 10:57, 30 January 2018 (UTC)

It is easy to find instances of the phrase "public transport" in reference to taxis. But I've yet to find an authoritative source saying "Taxis are a form of public transport". Finding articles or web pages that refer to taxis as public transport is original research. We need to find a source that has already done this research.    The Transhumanist 11:24, 30 January 2018 (UTC)

That's the thing, though; binary thinking is not as useful as continuum thinking, and even more important is understanding why we have the concept in the first place. To understand whether or not a taxi cab is or is not public transportation, we first need to understand what public transportation is as well as what its purpose is. If the purpose of public transportation is to provide on-demand, short-distance transportation in a metro area so that locals don't need to own automobiles, then taxis are public transportation. Even informal forms of transportation such as carpool, HOV lanes, or slugging are considered as part of a government's public transit policy. A deeper understanding of why you are asking the question is needed before one can provide a meaningful answer. --Jayron32 17:37, 29 January 2018 (UTC)
Sounds good to me. Now what we need are citations, so we can put the reality of the situation in the article. Can you find any authoritative sources that say:
1) Public transport are mass transit systems owned and operated by the government for the public
2) Public transport is any form of transportation available for public use
3) Taxis are a form of public transport
After those or similar statements are placed in the article, with citations, the article's problem will be solved.    The Transhumanist 10:29, 30 January 2018 (UTC)
As I said, It is not that simple and thinking in terms of the binary is it or isn't it is not useful to understanding the issues at hand. For example, for example this source from 1992 from a scholarly study finds "Any improvement in the taxi service should therefore be viewed as an important improvement in public transport provision" while this article from 2012 says "taxi service is a critical aspect of a transit system" and that we should treat "taxis as part of a wider public transport network". This page from the Government of the Netherlands treats taxi service as part of the public transit sector. However This government inquiry from Australia concludes that they are definitively NOT public transportation. So again, there are NOT universally agreed upon definitions here (as I said before) and there is not a binary option (as I said before) and that the understanding of public transit policy requires nuance and deeper thinking that "taxis are public transit" or "taxis are not public transit". If you're only allowing your brain to think in those two options, then you're doing it wrong. Again, continuum thinking makes more sense here. --Jayron32 14:00, 30 January 2018 (UTC)
It doesn't matter whether it is simple or not. What matters is, that whatever the situation is, gets documented in the article, with citations. If that means multiple views as in 1), 2), and 3) above all being covered, then so be it. They were not presented as either/or options, as they obviously coexist. The article should answer the following question as fully as is practical: "What is public transport?" The article currently doesn't reflect the answers you have given above, and is currently plastered with contradiction banners.    The Transhumanist 16:08, 30 January 2018 (UTC)
Well, I've just given you several reliable sources with different perspectives. Contradictions may exist in the article because contradictions exist in the real world. --Jayron32 16:38, 30 January 2018 (UTC)
I'd rather find a synthesis, like, "it means this, and it means this". See below.    The Transhumanist 17:04, 30 January 2018 (UTC)

Which one? Or something else?Edit

Here's the current lead paragraph from the article Public transport:

Public transport (also known as public transportation, public transit, or mass transit) is transport of passengers by shared-transport systems available for use by the general public, as distinct from modes such as taxicab, carpooling, hired buses, ride-sharing, and transportation network companies, which are not shared by the general public without private arrangement.

Here is the lead paragraph from the same article back in June of 2002:

Public transport is the collective name for transport systems employed in densely populated areas in order to supply an alternative to automobiles. It is called public transit in the U.S.A. and Canada. Wider definitions would include scheduled airline services, ferries, taxi services etc., basically any system which is transporting members of the general public.

And from December 2002:

Public transport is the collective name for transport systems in which the passengers do not travel in their own vehicles. It is called public transit in the U.S.A. and Canada. While it is generally taken to mean rail and bus services, wider definitions would include scheduled airline services, ferries, taxi services etc., basically any system which is transporting members of the general public.

I look forward to your replies.    The Transhumanist 17:04, 30 January 2018 (UTC)

Can you not google "definition of public transport"? --Jayron32 17:37, 30 January 2018 (UTC)
That was the very first thing I did before coming to you guys. The dictionary definitions support the current version of the article's lead.    The Transhumanist 17:49, 30 January 2018 (UTC)
Well? --Jayron32 17:51, 30 January 2018 (UTC)
The best I can come up with is provide the reader with related modes that are public in a different sense:

Public transport (also known as public transportation, public transit, or mass transit) is transport of passengers by shared-transport systems available for use by the general public. Other forms of transport that provide rides to the public for a fee, but are not considered public transport in the same sense, include vehicles for hire, such as taxicabs and auto rickshaws.

That way, it doesn't contradict dictionary entries.    The Transhumanist 18:53, 30 January 2018 (UTC)
But it does contradict at least three highly reliable sources I cited above which specifically call taxicabs a form of public transportation. --Jayron32 18:54, 30 January 2018 (UTC)
Thank you for the feedback. I've adjusted it to read "not generally considered".    The Transhumanist 19:10, 30 January 2018 (UTC)
Except, the three sources I included say that it is. If you want to be truly accurate on this, you would do well to explicitly note that there is not an agreement one way or the other. To imply even a general consideration one way or the other is demonstratedly false. --Jayron32 19:14, 30 January 2018 (UTC)
@Jayron32: I've removed my statement on taxis from the article. We're talking about the meaning of a term, based on how it is used in language, rather than the verification of some event or other fact (like "sunsets can be red"). You're references don't verify the meaning as a common context of the term. For that, you would need to cite a lexicon or standard textbook in the field, etc. Otherwise, all you have is a neologism: the term neologism has a broader meaning that includes not only "an entirely new lexical item" but also an existing word whose meaning has been altered.[1][2][3] Sometimes, the latter process is called semantic shifting,[1] or semantic extension. According to WP:NEOLOGISM, "Neologisms that are in wide use but for which there are no treatments in secondary sources are not yet ready for use and coverage in Wikipedia. The term does not need to be in Wikipedia in order to be a "true" term, and when secondary sources become available, it will be appropriate to create an article on the topic, or use the term within other articles."    The Transhumanist 02:46, 31 January 2018 (UTC)
This conversation bores me, mostly because it is clear you aren't looking for information (i.e. to learn more about a topic yourself or expand your own understanding), but rather affirmation (evidence you can use to verify your own preconceived notions, willing to ignore all alternate perspectives if they do not confirm your current beliefs). I have no use for that sort of thing. Have a good day, this is the last you'll hear from me on the topic. You don't have to respond or ping me anymore. I'm out. --Jayron32 12:10, 31 January 2018 (UTC)
I was looking for information on whether or not taxicabs could be added to the public transport article as a form thereof. (I was hoping they could). This discussion led me to the finding of the needed information, which probably wouldn't have happened without your help. Thank you. (By the way, I agree with you that taxis are a form of public transport in the sense that they are available for hire to the public, and because they move a lot of people. It's a pity they can't be added to the article as such, but I will keep a lookout for secondary sources. If you come across any, please post them on the article's talk page).    The Transhumanist 17:13, 31 January 2018 (UTC)
This may just be throwing a spanner into the works, but this intrigued me. Looking up definitions (in the UK) threw up this. "a system of buses, trains, etc, running on fixed routes, on which the public may travel." The factor in that, which seems to be missing from the discussion so far, is "fixed routes" Wymspen (talk) 09:56, 31 January 2018 (UTC)
Spanners are welcome. Monkey wrenches too. That tidbit has been added to the lead of the article public transport. Thank you for your observation.    The Transhumanist 17:13, 31 January 2018 (UTC)


@Jayron32: A similar problem arises with the term "shared transport". In all forms of public transport, the vehicles are shared. But does the term "shared transport" include buses, trains, and planes? If so, the two articles overlap almost entirely, and the various missing modes of transport need to be presented in the article on shared transport. Idioms appear to be a form of interface hacking, by hijacking a phrase that has a different meaning when concatenated in regular speech.

Getting back to "public transport", if you just take the meaning of the concatenated words, they could refer to cars in general, as they are a form of transport available to the public for purchase. Almost anyone can buy a car, and practically everyone uses them, so they are a form of mass transit in the context that they move a lot of people, and in some countries the majority of the public own one. But the terms "public transport" and "mass transit" as presented in dictionaries do not include privately owned vehicles, even though there are hundreds of millions of them owned by members of the public. In a similar way, those definitions do not include taxicabs either.    The Transhumanist 02:59, 31 January 2018 (UTC)


  1. ^ a b Zuckermann, Ghilʻad (2003). Language contact and lexical enrichment in Israeli Hebrew (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 3. ISBN 978-1403917232.
  2. ^ Sally Barr Ebest Writing from A to Z: the easy-to-use reference handbook 1999– p. 449 "A neologism is a newly coined word or phrase or a new usage of an existing word or phrase."
  3. ^ Lynne Bowker, Jennifer Pearson Working With Specialized Language 2002 p. 214 "Neologisms can also be formed in another way, however, by assigning a new meaning to an existing word."
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