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One can usually travel in three types of London Taxis - Black Cabs, Taxi Touts and Mini Cabs.


Taxis in London

Taxis in London

Every fare in the famous, London black cabs is metered and no driver is allowed to charge more than is shown on the meter. Black cab drivers are a great source of information and you can often learn more about London in a ten minute ride than you would from most guidebooks. The drivers are also 99% honest, fair and great conversationalists. Make sure you have a photo taken by a friend when you step out of the cab. You should know about three types of Taxis in London...

Black Cabs

Unlike other London taxis, London's black cabs are licensed by the police. Drivers must spend at least 36 months doing 'The Knowledge' which is in some cases considered harder than a university degree. They must ride around the city on mopeds learning all the streets of London, where they lead to, what the shortest route is and even about some of the individual buildings. The drivers are unpaid whilst studying 'The Knowledge' and they have to go out in all types of weather in London. Only three out of ten candidates actually pass the test to become a licensed black cab driver and it is 'The Knowledge' that makes the London taxi trade so special. Once they have passed the test, they are provided with a badge and they can officially hire out their trade. No other drivers have to go through such a tough procedure. You can be sure that the price you pay is an honest one as all of the cabs are metered, counting time and mileage. The meters are accurate and the majority of drivers are honest. Strangely enough some people seem to think that black cabs are responsible for a lot of the pollution in London, however this is not the case. The cabs must pass a smoke test (as per MOT) in order to be able to operate and there is a chance that they could be pulled over for random testing. The main culprits in creating pollution are more likely to be the London buses and lorries.

Mini Cabs

All that is needed to drive a mini cab is a valid driving licence. Mini cab drivers do not have to take any taxi tests and they are not regulated or licensed by anybody. They are generally cheaper than black cabs however they do not have meters in the cars so you have to trust the driver with the figure he gives you. Mini cabs in London are not allowed to stop on the street for you, you must ring them in advance to collect you. In Soho Chinatown , Theatreland and other busy areas of London, there are minicab touts that will tell you they have a cab waiting around the corner. This is an attempt to bypass the law. The Yellow Pages list numbers of mini cab companies in the area. If you are able to find a mini cab from a reputable company, you will probably pay less than a black cab and may also have as good a service. However beware when you are choosing a company from the Yellow Pages, as the one with the biggest ad may not necessarily be the best. Read on, for the really bad news...

Taxi Touts

These are completely illegal and are bad news, avoid them like the plague. They wait for unsuspecting tourists who do not know any better, usually in places such as London airports and railway stations. They will appear to be friendly and helpful, carrying your bag from the train station outside to the car. Remember that mini cabs cannot pick you up on the street, so if it looks like a private car, not a big black taxi, then you should refuse to get in. Take your bags and leave. There have been cases whereby tourists have been taken only a few blocks and then charged £60 or more. If you refuse to pay you could really be in trouble as they tend to have some very big friends that could land you in hospital.
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Know more about London by taking a ride in London Taxis!