A taxicab, in most cases, a comfortable method for door-to-door transport. While taxis often are an expensive way of getting around, in low-income countries with bad public transportation, taking a taxi for a whole day of sightseeing can be a practical option, even for daytrips around a region.
If you speak the local language, a conversation with the driver can give inside information of the neighbourhood, not provided by any guidebook.
A taxicab, also known as a taxi or a cab, is a type of vehicle for hire with a driver, used by a single passenger or small group of passengers, often for a non-shared ride. A taxicab conveys passengers between locations of their choice. This differs from other modes of public transport where the pick-up and drop-off locations are determined by the service provider, not by the passenger, although demand responsive transport and share taxis provide a hybrid bus/taxi mode.
There are four distinct forms of taxicab, which can be identified by slightly differing terms in different countries:
Hackney carriages, also known as public hire, hailed or street taxis, licensed for hailing throughout communities
Private hire vehicles, also known as minicabs or private hire taxis, licensed for pre-booking only
Taxibuses, also come many variations throughout the developing countries as jitneys or jeepney, operating on pre-set routes typified by multiple stops and multiple independent passengers
Limousines, specialized vehicle licensed for operation by pre-booking
Although types of vehicles and methods of regulation, hiring, dispatching, and negotiating payment differ significantly from country to country, many common characteristics exist. Disputes over whether smartphone-based ride hailing services should be regulated as taxicabs has resulted in some jurisdictions creating a new classification called transportation network company.
Taxi services are typically provided by automobiles, but in some countries various human-powered vehicles, (such as the rickshaw or pedicab) and animal-powered vehicles (such as the Hansom cab) or even boats (such as water taxies or gondolas) are also used or have been used historically. In Western Europe, Bissau, and to an extent, Australia, it is not uncommon for expensive cars such as Mercedes-Benz to be the taxicab of choice. Often this decision is based upon the perceived reliability of, and warranty offered with these vehicles. These taxi-service vehicles are almost always equipped with four-cylinder turbodiesel engines and relatively low levels of equipment, and are not considered luxury cars. This has changed though in countries such as Denmark, where tax regulation makes it profitable to sell the vehicles after a few years of service, which requires the cars to be well equipped and kept in good condition.
In recent years, some companies have been adding specially modified vehicles capable of transporting wheelchair-using passengers to their fleets. Such taxicabs are variously called accessible taxis, wheelchair- or wheelchair-accessible taxicabs, modified taxicabs, or “maxicabs”.
Wheelchair taxicabs are most often specially modified vans or minivans. Wheelchair-using passengers are loaded, with the help of the driver, via a lift or, more commonly, a ramp, at the rear of the vehicle. This feature is however a subject for concern amongst Licensing Authorities who feel that the wheelchair passenger could not easily exit the vehicle in the event of accident damage to the rear door. The latest generation of accessible taxis features side loading with emergency egress possible from either of the 2 side doors as well as the rear. The wheelchair is secured using various systems, commonly including some type of belt and clip combination, or wheel locks. Some wheelchair taxicabs are capable of transporting only one wheelchair-using passenger at a time, and can usually accommodate 4 to 6 additional able-bodied passengers.
Wheelchair taxicabs are part of the regular fleet in most cases, and so are not reserved exclusively for the use of wheelchair users. They are often used by able-bodied people who need to transport luggage, small items of furniture, animals, and other items. Because of this, and since only a small percentage of the average fleet is modified, wheelchair users must often wait for significantly longer periods when calling for a cab, and flagging a modified taxicab on the street is much more difficult.
Taxicabs in less developed places can be a completely different experience, such as the antique French cars typically found in Cairo. However, starting March 2006, newer modern taxicabs entered the service operated by various private companies. Taxicabs differ in other ways as well: London’s black cabs have a large compartment beside the driver for storing bags, while many fleets of regular taxis also include wheelchair accessible taxicabs among their numbers (see above). Although taxicabs have traditionally been sedans, minivans, hatchbacks and even SUV taxicabs are becoming increasingly common. In many cities, limousines operate as well, usually in competition with taxicabs and at higher fares.
Recently, with growing concern for the environment, there have been solar powered taxicabs. On 20 April 2008, a “solar taxi tour” was launched that aimed to tour 15 countries in 18 months in a solar taxi that can reach speeds of 90 km/h with zero emission. The aim of the tour was to spread knowledge about environmental protection.
Hints for riding a taxi
Get information on local taxi regulation: Each country and city has different regulations and payment schemes for taxi travel.
Have the destination address written down in the local language: Drivers might not be fluent in your language.
Follow local customs for tipping: While tipping is expected in some places (most low-income countries as well as the USA), it can be refused in other parts of the world (such as Japan).
Be aware of traffic conditions: During rush hour and special events, taxi travel might be a worse choice than urban rail.
Be aware of taxi scams:
If possible have a rough idea of where you are going and the fastest way to get there. Dishonest taxi drivers sometimes make unnecessary detours in order to charge higher prices.
If there is no meter in your taxi or meters aren’t used in your destination-country agree on a fare before entering the cab, as once you are in the cab your bargaining power is severely limited if not gone entirely.
In places where haggling is common and taxis don’t use meters expect to bargain for a fare.
Make sure in advance that you have proper money to pay the ride. Some, but not all, cabs take credit cards. Some cannot change large banknotes.
“Unlicensed taxis” are usually a bad idea as the small amounts of money they might save you are not worth the (sometimes significant) risk of theft, or abduction amongst other risks. Another reason for avoiding unlicensed taxis is that the driver and operator aren’t necessarily subject to the safety checks (of both driver and vehicle) that a licensed one would be. If a taxi-driver doesn’t have a license, they can’t lose it as a punishment for bad behavior, thereby a taxi license discourages criminal, unethical or unsafe practices to some extent.
Avoid taking taxis parked outside tourist attractions or hotels, as these taxi drivers are likely to be waiting to scam unsuspecting tourists. Instead, flag down a taxi that is cruising down the street, find a taxi stand that is used by the locals, or use a ride-hailing app, as you are more likely to get an honest driver this way.
Find out what the major reputable taxi companies your destination city are if they exist, and stick only to taxis operated by those companies, as the risk of scams is far lower.
When arriving at a major airport and there is no public transit option you’d consider viable, avoid touts in the arrival hall and only use the official taxi stand.
A cycle taxi, or a rickshaw, is a three-wheeled bicycle for hire, especially common in Asia.
A motorcycle taxi, also known as an auto rickshaw, baby taxi or tuk-tuk is a three-wheeled motorcycle for passenger transport. It is common in large cities, especially in Asia. Also plain motorcycles, mopeds or bikes are used at some destinations, such as the boda-bodas of East Africa.
For examples, see Thailand#Tuk-tuk or Philippines#By_tricycle.
If you are staying in a place with good mass transit (urban rail or buses) using it might often work out to be not only cheaper but faster as well.
Many city-centers are entirely walkable and if you aren’t mobility impaired a two or three kilometer stroll is entirely doable. Also walking is a great way to get to know a place and you can simply enter any interesting shops, restaurants or museum you might pass without the driver having to look for (often scarce) inner-city parking space.
In more and more places, cycling is the best way to go short to medium distances and several cities around the world have implemented bike-sharing programs that are a great alternative for visitors as well as locals. Bikes are available for rent in many more places.
Ride hailing services such as Uber, Haxi and Lyft offer taxi-like service using private vehicles in many cities. Ridesharing and hitchhiking may also be alternatives.
Taxis are most frequently used for getting to and from airports. Look around, if there really is no public connection or shuttle service of any kind, you may ask whether your hotel offers pick up and drop off service. This is sometimes free to encourage you to stay at their hotel and more often than not cheaper than a taxi. In Europe and increasingly East Asia a major airport without a rail or urban rail connection is a rare sight indeed. Even notorious no frills airports like Hahn nowadays at least have a bus connection (sometimes bookable through the airline website, although there may be cheaper ways)
If you are staying in a place for a longer time or plan to go on a road-trip anyway consider renting a car, with or without a driver. Carsharing services are an alternative provider for short term self-serve hire car rentals.