How to travel by Taxi
In London you will come across two types of taxis; MINICABS and BLACK CABS (also referred to as TAXIS).
HOW TO BOOK A MINICAB
Minicabs are private hire vehicles. Anyone can drive a minicab provided they have acquired a PCO (Public Carriage Office Licence). Public Carriage Office is responsible for issuing and regulating licences to minicabs. The PCO licence needs to be visible to the client. If you are at all unsure you can always ask to see the driver’s PCO licence before getting in to the car. It is against a law to accept a journey from a minicab without making a booking first either via phone, online or by person walking into a minicab office.
Any minicab driver offering services that were not pre-booked by a passenger is acting illegally. Hailing a minicab on the street is also illegal.
HOW TO BE SAFE
When travelling around London, do not accept an offer from an off the street minicab as these kind of services are illegal and may be highly dangerous. You risk being robbed or even sexually assaulted. If you do not book a minicab through an operator do not get into a car that offers you a lift. It is the same as getting into a stranger’s car. Even if the cars are waiting outside a club or a pub and offering to give you a lift do NOT accept. Instead, find the nearest minicab office or make a call. Always book your taxi from a licensed minicab office. You can do so in person, call or you can do everything online.
HOW TO BOOK A MINICAB ONLINE
If you want to book your minicab online as well as make your payment online and get the best price visit www.minicabit.com. The site is very easy to use. After typing in your destinations the site will give you an estimate journey time. You can then arrange your pick up time and you will get to choose from several offers according to the price they offer. Once you choose your price you can pay by credit/debit card and you will get a confirmation sms/email of your booking and payment. You will be charged a £1 booking fee. You can download the app ‘minicabit’ for free on your iphone, ipod or ipad.
HOW TO BOOK A BLACK CAB
Black cabs or Licensed London Taxis are iconic black vehicles only seen in London. Black cab drivers have to undergo 3 to 4 years of intense training known as ‘The Knowledge’ in order to get their license and become independent taxi drivers. Black cabs (taxis) have the sign ‘taxi’ above the front window. When the light is on it means the cab is available for hire. If the light is switched off, the cab is currently occupied or already booked. All black cabs have a meter that displays your fare.
Only Black cab drivers can pick up passengers on the street without prior booking.
HOW MANY PEOPLE CAN TRAVEL IN A CAB
Driver and passengers are separated by a window. Smoking is not permitted. Passengers sit in in the back seat and not next to the driver. There is no front passenger seat, however, Black cabs are spacious and will comfortably fit 5 people; 3 people on a seat and 2 people on a jump seat (fold down seats) facing backwards. Wheelchair users will get in comfortably. Luggage is usually put in the passenger space as there isn’t a real trunk for luggage but drivers are willing to put the luggage in the seat next to them if needed. Drivers will help you with your luggage and with access if you need help getting in or out of the cab. Black cabs are generally more expensive than minicabs but also safer and are likely to be more professional.
HOW MUCH IS THE FARE
The minimum fare is £2.40 at all times. The rest of the fare depends on the time of your journey, the distance and how long the journey takes. You will have to take into account the traffic and therefore when travelling during busy times the fare may be higher than when making the same journey at the less busy time. You will not be charged extra for your luggage or for additional passengers. Payments are usually made in cash at the end of the journey. Price as indicated on the meter. Some drivers accept credit/debit card payments (additional charge applies). Click here for approximate fare guide.
HOW AND WHERE TO COMPLAIN
If you feel you have been mistreated in any way you should file a complaint. It is advisable to note as many details about the journey and the vehicle as possible such as the pick-up point, the destination, day of the journey, etc. It is necessary to note the taxi registration number which is a five digit number situated at the rear of the taxi and a badge number which every driver is obliged to wear at all times.
WHAT ABOUT GUIDE DOGS
Refusing to take a guide or assistance dog unless the driver has a medical exemption certificate is illegal and he/she could end up in court. By law the only reason a private hire driver can refuse to carry an assistance/guide dog is if they have a medical exemption certificate issued by the council.
You are NOT required to pay extra charge for your assistance dog.
1. A black cab has to be tall enough to comfortably accommodate a passenger wearing a bowler hat.
2. A London black cab driver is expected to know over 25,000 roads and 20,000 landmarks and pass a test called “The Knowledge”.
3. Shouting “Taxi” at a moving cab is technically against the law and the taxi will not stop for you. All you need to do to hail a cab is to raise your hand.
4. The term ‘taxi’ originates from ‘taximeter’ which is a tool used to calculate a fare.
5. The taxi trade originally began in the 1600s as a horse-drawn carriage with the first taxi rank in The Strand.
6. There are approximately 21,000 black cabs in London. Many cab drivers own their taxi and operate as independent businesses.
7. The first motorised cabs were introduced to London in 1908.
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