Taxis in London
Taxis are expensive in London and if doing a lot of travelling in a taxi, it can put a hole in your pocket. For the budget conscious traveller, consider taking a taxi when travelling with at least three people, with family or have too much luggage to carry. Riding a taxi in London may be expensive but the city's taxis are spacious and comfortable.
There are two types of taxi services in London namely the city's famous black taxis (nowadays these taxis are not always black) and private hire vehicles commonly known as minicabs. The taxi drivers (whether driving the black taxis or minicabs) have a licence to carry passengers. They must pass the Knowledge of London test, pass a criminal background check and pass a medical fitness check. Therefore, rest assured you are getting a professional behind the wheels.
Pink coloured London taxi by GilPe
London's Black Taxis
Riding on London’s famous black taxi is an experience for any visitor new to the city. To get a taxi, you can flag or wave for one on the street, go to the nearest taxi rank or book by phone (booking fee applies). You will know a black taxi is available for hire if you see the 'for hire' sign lighted on the roof. Licensed drivers wearing a green badge can work anywhere in London and those wearing a yellow badge work in the suburban areas. All black taxis in London are wheelchair accessible.
The law requires drivers of black taxis to take you to anywhere within Greater London though some may dislike going to certain destinations. Taxis here use the meter and the fare charged according to distance and minutes. Tipping the driver is not mandatory but many expect it. Londoners usually round-up the taxi fare to the nearest pound and consider the extra paid as the tip. All black taxis accept payment by credit or debit card and there is no surcharge for using the card.
Minicabs are normal cars licensed as private hire vehicles to carry passengers. You cannot flag a minicab on the street and not found at the taxi ranks. You must call and book through a licensed private hire operator. The operator will inform you the name of the driver that will pick you up, the driver’s licence number and car registration number. Expect minicab drivers to wear their identity cards with their photo, name and licence number when meeting you.
Minicab in London by TerriersFan
Minicabs are generally cheaper than the black taxis for long journeys (such as going to Gatwick Airport from Central London) but not necessarily cheaper for short journeys. Minicabs in London do not have meters and the local authority does not regulate their fares. Nevertheless, charges are according to distance and generally charge a fix fare. Get a quote for the fare from the operator before you decide to book for a minicab.
Only black taxis can stop for passengers when called on the streets. Avoid minicab drivers seeking passengers on the streets because licensed minicab drivers do not approach for customers - you have to call and book for one to pick you up. Take the train, bus or call for a minicab if black taxis are hard to find in the area. If at a hotel, club, restaurant etc where a black taxi is hard to find, then check with staff to see if a minicab service is available.
You can find illegal or unlicensed minicabs touting for passengers in some parts of London. They are often in areas poorly serviced by black taxis, especially late at night. Avoid illegal minicabs since the drivers do not undergo training, background and medical checks unlike licensed drivers. Furthermore, there is no insurance coverage for passengers riding commercially on illegal minicabs. There have also been instances of unlicensed drivers being aggressive with their passengers.
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