In Sacramento, Calif., for two days last week, only five taxicabs remained in service to handle emergency calls. All five cabs stayed clear of hotels and the Southern Pacific's bustling station; one even hid in a downtown alley. The other 115 Sacramento cabs had used the last gallon of their quarterly gas ration, and could get no more until Jan. 1.

During the 40 necessary trips that drivers of the emergency cabs dared make, they were mobbed by would-be-riders, stopped by at least a dozen people who pleaded that they were practically dying on the street. By mid-week the five cabs...

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