Taxi in London

London as a city causes different images to pop into the minds of different people. Depending on what you have read, what you have seen, who you have spoken to and where you have been, you will probably have a specific image that you associate with London. In many people’s case, it will be a big red bus or a red telephone box. For some it will be one of the landmarks – the Houses of Parliament, London Bridge or Buckingham Palace. But for a lot of others, London’s famous black taxis are an immediately recognizable shorthand for the capital of England.

The taxi has obvious advantages over other forms of public transport. In comparison with trains, it has no specific station, so in theory you can take a taxi from pretty much anywhere to anywhere else. In comparison with a bus, it has the advantage of directness as one does not have to wait while the bus stops and picks up or puts down other passengers in other locations. And most of all, you can stop a taxi anywhere to get out once it reaches your chosen destination, or even somewhere else that looks interesting and that you might like to investigate. There is the disadvantage that it tends to cost more to go between two places in a taxi than it does to go between the same two places in a bus or other form of public transport. It comes down to what you prioritize as your defining choice. If you prize convenience above price, then the taxi is very much for you.

Taxi in LondonBlack taxis are generally divided into two kinds – those with meters that tick around as you travel, charging you for distance traveled – generally the cab will tick once for every 200 yards, adding an extra 20p (roughly 30 US cents) a time, from a base fare of L1.40 or just over two dollars for the initial hiring of the taxi. The advantage is with those who travel earlier in the day, as fares can increase after 8pm and again after midnight, times when people are either going out for the night or coming back from an evening out. When you reach your destination it is considered good form to pay a tip – even if the journey has not been especially good, as long as you have not had the journey from hell people will generally tip at a rate of 10% of the overall fare.

Hailing a cab is a fairly simple process. When you see a cab that is in service (noticeable by a yellow light above the windscreen, switched on by the driver when they are looking for a fare), then you can raise your arm to attract the attention of the driver. If they see you, they will stop and ask where you want to go. The rest is fairly straightforward. Do take care, though, to remember that taxi drivers are well within their rights to refuse you, especially if you appear to be intoxicated. Drivers have had plenty of experience in the drawbacks of allowing drunk people to travel in their cabs.