Visitors to London have many options for travel, most notable of which is the ever-present taxi in London. From the iconic Black taxis plying in and around London to the many local minicabs, taking a Taxi in London is one of the best and unique ways of travelling around the city.
No visitors London experience is complete without a ride in one of London’s famous black cabs. These can be hailed on any street or from designated ranks situated all around London. Black taxi’s around London are a truly unique symbol of London on par with the London bus! The traditional Black taxis have a very long and illustrious history, initially started out as “Hackney Carriages” dating back to 1662. The design of these cabs varied up to 1945 when the familiar black cab design became implemented.
The taxi industry operating in London today is the number one ranked taxi service in the world. A feature unique to London cabbies is that they are required to pass a test called “The Knowledge” which requires them to know each and every road and landmark in London. It is in itself no small feat. Putting it in numbers, a London cab driver has to memorise 320 routes, 20,000 landmarks and 25,000 streets before they qualify to drive a London taxi. The average time to study and pass the test is a minimum three years!
Currently, there are on average 21,000 black cabs in operation in and around London. The minimum fare for a black cab in London is £2.60 at all times. Passengers should pay the full fare displayed on the meter at the end of the journey unless a fixed amount is agreed upon by the driver and the passenger before the trip. Tariff plans for a Taxi in London also differ based on the distance travelled, time and day. Visitors travelling out of Greater London can negotiate fares with their driver before the start of a journey. Visitors using London taxis must also be prepared to tip their drivers at the end of the trip. There are no set rates for the tip and can be any amount the passenger feels reasonable.
All black cabs operating in and around London are equipped to be wheelchair accessible and carry assistance dogs at no extra charge. Taxis in London also take additional aids such as Ramps, Swivel seats, grab handles, and intercoms to name a few. Black cabs also accept payment by credit or debit card.
Apart from Black cabs, visitors to London have the option of using one of the many private hire vehicles or minicabs operating in and around London. Operators are licensed, and it is possible to check their status with Transport for London. With fares cheaper than Black cabs, these Minicabs offer visitors a more affordable option for travel around London. It is possible to book the services of a minicab by phone or email. However, visitors should take note of the fact that these cabs do not have meters and as such passengers should always inquire how much a journey will cost before booking. Private hire vehicles and minicabs use a variety of cars and passengers should always check if the vehicle suits their requirements for the trip.
A caveat for any visitor looking to hire a Taxi in London is always to be aware of un-booked minicabs, which are in contravention of the law. Visitors are advised to avoid such cabs as they are almost always unlicensed, uninsured, unsafe and illegal.