London Taxi: an Overview
London taxis are also called black cabs, black taxis, or even hackney carriages. No matter the name, they are as well-known as the NYC taxis, being one of the most characteristic city’s images. Although they are considered rather expensive, their services are undoubtedly convenient and safe, partially justifying their cost. On the other hand, many private-hire vehicles also provide taxi rides in London. So, what’s the difference between them?
London Black Cab Vs Private-Hire Vehicle
How to Distinguish a Licensed London Black Cab
Black taxis in London aren’t even black. Verily, they are multi-colored, purpose-built vehicles that stand out for their spacious and comfortable passenger compartments. Indeed, they can accommodate up to 5 passengers while being accessible. Moreover, efforts have been made so that nowadays, a vast number of London taxis are electric cars.
Overall, licensed London cabs have an orange taxi sign on their roof, indicating their availability (lit when they are available and off when they are busy). They are equipped with a taximeter. Thus, they charge according to the traveling time and the traversed distance. Still, the maximum rates are regulated by the government.
You can hail an official black taxi in London from the street or head to one of the 600 taxi ranks scattered around the city to get your cab. Alternatively, London taxis can be hired online, through a taxi app, or via the phone.
Please bear in mind that licensed black taxis in London also must:
- have a yellow or green license sticker on their front and back windshields. The yellow license means that the taxi can operate only in some of London’s suburban areas, while the green one indicates that it can handle rides throughout London.
- have a white license plate displaying useful info (the vehicle’s license number, the registration number, its passenger capacity, etc.).
- their drivers must wear a yellow or green badge, depending on their allowed area of operation.
On the other hand, all black taxi drivers are background checked and pass through regular medical exams. What’s more, they are obliged to accept up-to-12-mile (19km) rides or up-to-one-hour journeys inside the Greater London area. However, they can refuse rides to destinations outside Greater London. Last but not least, all black taxis in London must carry guide dogs.
How to Distinguish a Licensed Private Hire Vehicle
Private hire vehicles don’t have a distinctive color as well. Moreover, they can be any vehicle type (from limousines to minicars). Nevertheless, no matter the vehicle model, a private hire vehicle can’t be hailed from the street or be hired at the taxi stands. Hence, minicabs can be booked online, through a taxi app, via the phone, or through the minicab offices.
Unbooked in-advance minicabs are always unlicensed. Thus, you should refuse those rides under any circumstances.
Private hire vehicles are also licensed by the government. Thus, drivers are background checked as well, guide dogs are always accepted, and vehicles must be up to 10 years old. Therefore, it is evident that minicabs offer equally safe and quality services.
As mentioned before, minicabs are available only with a previous booking. Additionally, official minicabs have the Transport for London license discs displayed on their front and rear windows, while their drivers must wear their private hire ID. You should also bear in mind that after booking your minicab, you’ll receive a confirmation mail. This email must contain -among other useful info- the vehicle’s registration mark, and the driver’s name, license number, and photo.
London Taxi Fares
Fares and prices of black taxis in London are governmentally regulated. Still, the charging system is overcomplicated and often even incomprehensible to passengers. In any case, you should remember that the taximeter displays the maximum charge. Thus, if you have agreed on a set fare with your driver, you are entitled to pay the lower price. That’s usually the case with long-distance trips outside Greater London. However, the agreed fare can’t be higher than the taximeter’s indication.
Overall, the minimum fare for a London taxi ride is 3.80£/4.40€/4.70$, no matter the time of the day or the journey’s distance. Moreover, luggage isn’t charged extra. However, calling your cab adds an up-to-2£/2.30€/2.50$ fee to your ride, while traveling during Christmas and New Year’s Eve raises the total fare by 4£/4.60€/4.95$. Drivers can also charge up to 60£/69€/74$ for severe soiling. Last but not least, please keep in mind that black taxis in London are dependent on the traffic conditions. Hence, your ride can end up being considerably more expensive if traveling during peak hours.
Overall, London taxi prices are divided into 4 tariffs:
- Tariff 1 applies from Monday to Friday between 05:00 am to 08:00 pm (not during public holidays).
- Tariff 2 applies from Monday to Friday between 08:00 pm to 10:00 pm and on weekends from 05:00 am to 10:00 pm (not on public holidays).
- Tariff 3 applies from 10:00 pm to 05:00 am every day and during public holidays (all day).
- Longer than 6-mile/9.6km journeys are charged based on Tariff 4.
Please note that tariffs can change during the ride. Thus, you aren’t charged based just on the pick-up time of the day or the day of the week.
If you want to get an idea of the approximate London taxi fares, you can check the following price table:
|Tariffs||1 mile / 1.60km||2 miles / 3.20km||4 miles / 6.40km||6 miles / 9.60km|
On the other hand, minicabs offer set prices for their services. Thus, once booking your journey, you should be aware of its cost as well.
Overall, black taxis in London are far more expensive than minicabs for long-distance journeys. Conversely, short trips are similarly charged by both black cabs and private-hire companies.
London Taxis to Heathrow Airport
More Tips and Hints about London Taxis
- Black cabs are metered. Verily, they don’t offer set fares even for rides from Heathrow to London. Hence, once you enter your black cab, you should check if the taximeter is zeroed and operating.
- Receipts can be very handy in case of forgotten items inside the car or if you want to make an official complaint. Verily, they have all the necessary vehicle’s and driver’s info written on them. As far as the filing a complaint procedure is concerned, you can easily file a complaint online.
- London taxis accept payments in cash and via bank cards. No extra fee applies for card payments.
- Tipping the driver is optional in London. Passengers may just round up the fare.
How do I call a cab in London?
Black taxis in London can be hailed from the street, be hired from the official taxi ranks, or be booked online, via taxi apps, or through the phone. On the other hand, private hire vehicles must be reserved online, through each company’s app, or through the minicab offices. However, passengers can’t catch a minicab from the street or the taxi stands.
What taxi is used in London?
Private hire vehicles -widely known as minicabs- can be any vehicle model. Conversely, black taxis in London are purpose-made, accessible vehicles with spacious interiors that can accommodate up to 5 passengers. Still, despite their name, they aren’t black but can be of any color.
How to pay for a taxi in London??
All London taxis accept payments in cash and via bank cards. Moreover, contactless payments are also an available option. However, if planning on paying via a credit card, it is always advisable to let the driver know, just to be on the safe side.
Do you tip taxis in London?
You don’t have to tip your London taxi driver. Hence, tipping isn’t obligatory. Still, passengers usually round up the fare for pleasant rides and satisfying services.