The Black Cab


1 June 2014 (Previously 17 April 2011

Taxi Service

Nothing is more exciting than zipping through the streets of London on the wrong side of the road. Fortunately the drivers of the Black Cabs know their right from left. Or is it left from right? London is a confusing city to a non-resident but the drivers do know the short routes and what streets are closed for engineering work. Trust them. Although the black-cab now comes in fancy fruit flavors they are still simply the Black Cab. My lady friend from Coventry always reminds me that black cabs are made in Coventry. I always remind her that Lady Godiva came from Coventry.

At evening rush hour the tube and buses can be packed. It is not uncommon to miss a train or bus due to this. If you have to get someplace the cab is your best bet. Yes, you may be stuck in traffic but the driver can take alternate streets. The bus cannot do this. Really, no visit to London would be complete without a cab ride. For the latest information on taxi’s and mini cabs, see this Transport for London
page.

Notice:
At this time I am not making entries for alternative taxi companies other to say I am a supporter of the men and women to drive the black cabs.

Taxi Drivers

Some are very quite as they may think your don’t want to talk to them. I have been with a few that have nothing to say but most are talkative. Once they find out where you are from they can get very chatty. Taxi drivers are good people. Many have been to the states, albeit the ones in the warmer states. They, like many in England are keen on talking to Americans about America.

Taxi Concerns

Some travel guides sometimes tell you that there are two types of taxi services; the black cab and mini cabs. This is true, to a point. Black cabs are what everyone sees in London. They are the only cab that is permitted to pick you up on the street. Mini cabs are not permitted to so this. Mini cabs are somewhat like a car-hire service such that you call them to pick you up at a certain time and place. They are legal if they have a license; they just work differently than the black cab.

Licensed Mini Cabs

Licensed mini cabs are not the same as the black cabs. Black cabs can be hailed from the street whereas mini cabs must be booked ahead. They are a private hire service and not for on-demand pick up. They are as safe to use as black cabs or any other form of public transport; they just operate under different rules. It should be stressed that you do not ride in un-licensed cabs, nor should you accept rides from strangers stopping you on the street. Black cabs are historically black but can be found in a wide assortment of fancy fruit flavors. They also sport adverts and eye-catching designs. Other than that they all look basically the same. Min cabs are just regular cars.

There was a movement to allow licensed mini cabs to pick up people on the street. Needless to say the black cab drivers staged a protest as this will cut into their business.

Unlicensed Mini Cabs

There is a “third” service and this is what a lot of travel guides tell you to avoid. They are unlicensed mini cabs. They are not controlled by the government or regulated. You are at their mercy and they can be dangerous as well. People have been robbed or taken out of their way for a higher cost to be paid. Licensed mini cabs are ok.

Taxis for Sightseeing

One can hire a cab for a day’s sightseeing excursion. The drivers are knowledgeable and you get personal service. This is not cheap but can be fun and maybe a worth looking into.

Service Area

Practically no area is out of bounds for taxi service. Although they serve greater London, cabs will take passengers further afield but prior booking may be required.

Connections

As taxis offer door-to-door service, taking a cab to any station, airport or seaport is direct and in many cases the best way to travel.

Luggage in Transit

There is plenty of room in a taxi for your luggage and room in the trunk, if needed. Two people travelling on holiday should not have luggage issues.

People Having Special Concerns
(Students, Families, Children, Disabled & Elderly)

The taxis have ramps to permit wheelchair users easy entry. There is plenty of room in the cab and the drivers will help you should the need arise. As you get “door to door” service this may be the best way to travel.
http://www.taxiregister.com/disability.php

Taxi fares (How to Pay)

Black cabs charge by the minute whereas mini cabs charge by the mile. This actually could be better that the black cabs if you are transferring between airports. If you are sitting in a traffic jam your bank account will not be spread thin.

Typical payment is with cash but many (but not all) drivers accept credit cards. Such transactions may see an addition fee added. Tips are at your discretion and you are free to tip as much as you wish but should be 10% of the fare. Please be advised that drivers do not keep all the money they make. They often buy or lease the car, pay for repairs and buy the petrol. They don’t have the margin that other services have.

Transport of London publishes this
fare guide that could be helpful. Please read the PDF files within that page.

Extra

See:
Mini Cabs:
http://www.minicabsinlondon.com/
Wki:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxicabs_of_the_United_Kingdom
Public Carriage Office:
http://www.tfl.gov.uk/businessandpartners/taxisandprivatehire/2807.aspx

Cabmen’s Shelters


See
http://www.urban75.org/london/cabmans-shelters.html

The Cabmen’s Shelter Charity
website.