TAXI / CABBIES, Mumbai
Cab drivers in Mumbai are no way better than their Manila counterparts. I think they are even worse! Before taking one, you will be well advised to confirm how you will be charged - whether fixed rate or by their antiquated meters. If it's through the latter, you should ask for the conversion table to determine the exact amount you should pay. Of course, you are always free to add extra to a friendly and helpful cabbie.
Whether they speak English or not is another matter, though. :-)
Rickshaws are everywhere - do take them for the experience and because they are very cheap.
But ensure they 'flag down' the meter - It should read '1' before you start your journey. if it says anything higher than this, make them flag it down again, or get out and choose another rickshaw.
Most drivers will flag down correctly but then overcharge you at the destination hoping you cant read the meter. The meter is easy to read as you just ignore the decimal place and subtract 1. So if it says 2.4 that is 23 rupees. if it says 4.1 that is 40 rupees.
Just point to the meter and say the correct price. The driver may then try to 'haggle' a new 'rip off price' just be insistent and very shortly they will succomb. I dont think its necessary to be angry or shout etc, they are just being cheeky and will usually give in pretty soon.
Sometimes they will ask how much change you want. its up to you, but bear in mind we are talking pence/cents so it wont hurt to leave a few rupees with them.
Also, always carry the written address of you destination and your base (e.g. hotel address) at least in English and if you can, in hindi as well. Often a rickshaw driver will accept your fare even though he doesnt know where it is. he might ask for the address, or keep stopping and asking locals where to go. If you see your destination just tell them to stop otherwise they will keep going round it for ages!
Dont take a rickshaw if pollution or a VERY bumpy ride bothers you (dont if you are pregnant)
Living in Mumbai fro last 5 years now, I thought of sharing some tips for safe taxi/cab options for tourists at international/domestic airport.
Priority 1 -Pickup arranged by hotel in which you are staying. This is slightly expensive yet safest bet for foreign tourist. Not only safer its more convenient too, as the driver would know exact location of the hotel. Don't pay anything to the driver if the pickup or drop is included in the hotel package. A tip of Rs. 100 is good by Indian standards, you can pay more if you are happy with the service provided.
Priority 2 - Fleet Taxi/ Radio taxi before exiting the airport. Counters for fleet taxi companies (TAB CAB/ MERU / EASY CAB) are there just before exits. Tell them where you have to go, and they will call the driver with Radio Taxi. This option is safer as these taxis are fitted with GPS and company can track the driver and the cab so they are more honest. If you have a GPS based Google map on your phone/iPad, you can track of you are moving in the right direction
Priority 3 - Post Paid taxi (Air conditioned or non air conditioned): again the counter could be found just before the exit. These counters are usually manned by the traffic police who will ask you your name and the destination and ask you to pay upfront accordingly and give you a paper slip in duplicate. Give the driver his slip only on reaching the destination. Don't pay him anything if he asks for more money saying that he as been waiting at airport for many hours or the destination is wrong. In case of any argument, as him to take you to nearest police station.
Priority 4 - Taxis outside the airport. For this and category 3 specially here are some additional tips: note the taxi number before boarding it. Either call or pretend to call up your hotel or friend from your phone telling the taxi number to them. Keep your luggage in boot compartment only- if the driver insists to keep it in front next to him, be very alert as many times things get stolen from luggage in such cases. Don't pay anything if the driver asks you money for getting petrol/gas filled. Be very careful while handing over the currency notes while settling the bill. Look and give each note carefully. There have been incidences where tourist gave note of Rs. 500. And was told that he has given Rs. 50 instead. Look for a Policeman nearby and report to him in case such situation escalates.
In general the Indians are very friendly and helpful to foreign tourists, but like most of the other places in the world, tourists are soft targets for crooks - so be careful. These tips are useful for other big cities of India like Delhi too.
Unique Suggestions: Get airport pickup arranged by your hotel, host. Note cab number, keep a live google map handy to see where you are going.
Fun Alternatives: In case your flight is arriving too late in night or too early in morning and you don't have a pick up arranged by your hotel/host, wait inside the airport till 6-6.30 AM or get a radio taxi.
In case you are arriving by a domestic flight and have to catch an international flight from the same city, please note that you don't need to go out of the airport, internal transfer shuttles are provided by the airport. Look for a sign board for the same, or check with your flights air hostess or steward. Otherwise you can also check with airport officials or police/cops in the airport. Don't go out before checking this.
When Traveling in Metered Cabs . the Yellow Black metered Taxi . always insist on paying by tariff card approved the the regional transport office R.T.O and in Indian rupees , The minimum fare starts @
Rs13/- when it shows 1.00 on the meter for a distance of 1.5 km. then increases in mutiples . You can match the meter reading on the tariff card to calculate the actual fare. Luggage is charged extra. In case of any dis agreement just order to go to nearest police station for assistance. Usually the cabbie driver will flag down the meter but try to extract extra bucks seeing you are a tourist, always make it clear you will pay by the tariff card and avoid pit falls.
Unique Suggestions: Seek local help for directions, approach local police to resolve the issue. In some places you might find jeeps with "Tourist Police" for guidance.
Taxi drivers may tell you the hotel you want is full, closed, burnt down or whatever, it's because he wants to take you to one that will pay him commission. Treat touts with suspicion. And to avoid this problem, book your hotel room well in Advance.
Local Cabbies/Rickshaws: They try to fleece you by asking for as much as 3 times the actual fare. TIP- Ask for the Tariff card and then pay accordingly. URL to correct fare for taxis and auto-rickshaws http://www.mumbai-central.com/imp_info/fares.html#taxi
They often would quote you an exorbitant price upon arrival at your location. You will notice that there is a meter on the front, sometimes on the outside of the the cab. That is your metered fare. The driver also has a fare chart with details of the corresponding fare for the meter reading. Make sure you ask to check the fare chart to make sure that he is not over quoting you.
I found that if you hail a cab from outside a Hotel or a tourist attraction, the cab driver is more likely to try and overcharge you.
Usually tourists are informed about the trap they get into while getting into a cab from the airport . These days a lot of tourists get robbed while entering the city from the airport at night .
Unique Suggestions: I would advise you not to travel alone at night in a cab. Call a travel agency in mumbai and have them send a vehicle to come pick you up. Other wise re-schedule your flight so you arrive after 7 in the morning and before 12 midnight . If you have to catch a cab make sure to tell a cop ( who's job it is to note the number of the cab any way ) which cab you plan to take( mostly fiats ) make sure the cop notes the number of the cab , where you plan to go and your personal identification. The problem is even worst for ladies travelling alone . So be sure to take precautionay measures !!
Local Cabbies/Rickshaws: They try to fleece you by asking for as much as 3 times the actual fare.
TIP- Ask for the Tariff card and then pay accordingly.
URL to correct fare for taxis and auto-rickshaws http://www.mumbai-central.com/imp_info/fares.html#taxi
at airport or train station, confirm cab fare BEFORE you leave. Be aware of how much it should be and refuse if too expansive. Try to find a 'cool cab' not only for the air conditioning but also because of high pollution in Bombay.
Taxi and rickshaws are provided by the meter which observes a fixed rate. If you are a westerner or easterner They may fool you.