Ads on London Cabs Feature U.S. Vacations

London taxi cabs have taken to sporting advertisements on their doors and hoods for American cities and tourist destinations.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

London taxis used to be stolid, reliable and somber-shaded black. Nowadays, London cabs are blooming. More than a quarter of London's 25,000 taxis have been painted with bright advertisements, many of them for American tourist spots, including Las Vegas, Memphis, and the Great Lakes.

A number of the cabbies have been schooled to give a spiel at the wheel, too, about the place their cab has been painted to promote. Drivers are never going to keep their mouths shut. That's what London cabbies do, says the general manager of Taxi Media Advertising, we capitalize on that.

Now, some government regulators have expressed concern that letting the driver used that 15 minutes he'll have a passenger in the cab for sales pitch infringes on the passenger's right to silence. But so far, they say they've received no complaints.

With the dollar just about half as valuable as the pound these days, more Britons are flying over to scoop up bargains like clothing, shoes, iPods and, of course, U.S. banks.

Coming up, our book critic on wheels, London cabbie Will Grozier tells us what he's reading between stops in his commercial-free taxi.

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