Are London "black cab" taxis expensive compared to public transport? Not from my experience.
Arriving with the Eurostar at St Pancras International to join my hotel near Tower Hill I would have to walk with my luggage 7 minutes (according to the Transport for London Journey Planner) to reach King's Cross St.Pancras Underground Station with stairs because of "Reduced escalator service".
There I would have to take the Circle Line towards Tower Hill Underground station (average journey time 15 mins). At Tower Hill there are again stairs and then walk 3 mins to my hotel. Total minimum time: 25 minutes. Price cash ticket: 4£.
The taxis are waiting outside St Pancras International and I got one immediately. The black cab took 25 mins (Friday & Monday in August; less traffic because vacation) and did cost 13 £.
Shall I add that there are works on various underground lines on WE (Circle line and District line and several others) so that more than half of London underground lines have no service or partial service on WE.
See on their website: www.tfl.gov.uk Line Travel News - Planned Works Calendar.
While most people find the tube the most efficient means of getting around London, I think this is the perfect place to splurge and take the famous London Black Cabs!
It's easy to hail one, once you get the hang of it. Just watch for the taxi that has it's light indicating that it's available and stick up your hand. I find the cabbies incredibly watchful for people wishing to ride. In July we just finished our visit to the London Eye, stepped onto the sidewalk and raised our hand. A cabbie coming the other direction swung into a UTurn and picked us up.
While some feel them to be expensive, every ride is a mini tour. We nearly always pass something interesting, and Cabbies are always anxious to impart a little history and local color. While in many foreign cities the taxi drivers are known for trying to trick you into paying a steeper fare, London Cabbies are always professional and forthright.
Can you imagine a NYC taxi driver calling you "luv" and not being seriously creeped out?!
The well-known Black Cabs of London are almost as famous as the red buses. They are also being modernized and you may see more green, blue, red or even white cabs. I read that the cab drivers in London are considered among the safest drivers, so you are in good hands.
They can be quite expensive, I should know, I spent a bomb on my last trip.
Finding a Cab: You can ring them, hail them or find them at ranks (stands).
Ladycabs (women drivers only) 020-7254 3501
Radio Taxis: 020 7272 0272
Computer Cabs: 020 7286 0286
Lost Property: 020-7941 7800
Complaints: 020-7941 7900
2am is not the best time to start arguing with London cabbies about fares. They have seen it all, heard it all and are not interested. Petra and I are at Victoria Station - no tubes, no trains - there is a night bus - but it never appeared. The area around the station is no place to be hanging around waiting for buses, all forms of human life have crawled out of the woodwork and are either drunk or drugged or both.
I approached a cabbie who was *on a break* and asked him how much, roughly to Bayswater - *about 12 quid love, but you have to queue over there*. So we queued - with a New Zealand family with 4 very young children and several large suitcases. When it came to our turn I approached a cab - *How much to Bayswater?* *15 quid* GASP! *15 quid??? but that cabbie over there said around 12!* He was in no mood to argue and with that he made no further eye contact and accelerated at high speed to the NZ family who needed two cabs!
The next cab in the queue pulled up - I asked the same question and he replied - *Why wouldn't the other cab take you?* so I told him what had happened and even he was shocked - he said *15 quid?? It's about 5 to Bayswater!* So I said *That'll do* and we jumped in. The meter read £3.30 before we had gone anywhere and he apologised as he said *Errrm... actually it will probably be more like £8-10* so we said ok and he took us all the way to our hostel (only about a couple of miles or so away and in the end the meter read £11.30. He said *just give us a tenner love* - what a nice guy!
London cabs late are night are VERY expensive! Night buses are only £1.20 per journey but you don't want to be hanging around late at night waiting for buses in seedy places.
Piece of cake! It's easy to hail one of LONDON'S BLACK TAXIS. Just look for a taxi that has it's "TAXI" sign lit, indicating that it is available and stick out your hand and flag it down.
But as you can see in this accompanying picture, London's famous black Taxis now come in a myriad of colours --- even baby blue.
All fares are metered and all drivers are registered and licensed, so no need to worry about being "ripped off".
If you want to get somewhere easily with the least hassle in London, then a Licensed Black Cab is they way to do it.
However it does come at a cost. I almost never use them as the premium is just to high in comparison to buying a travelcard that lets you use the buses, trains and underground in London, but if you really don't want to travel with the great unwashed and you have a big wallet, then taxi is your transport!
My travel friend offered to pay to get us to our hotel in London, and she chose one of London's black taxis as the fastest, most direct way to get into the city at the end of a long continental flight.
It still took about an hour in the traffic in mid-afternoon, and we seemed to have circled Hyde Park at least twice because of some traffic snafu.
The cab driver was very nice and polite, and the taxi ride though long was fun because it offered my first chance to see London. I was fascinated just to see all the traffic with all the drivers on the right and the license plates with the huge numbers.
However, it was very expensive -- I think about 45 pounds plus tip. The convenience was nice, but on a budget trip the subway (express) would have been a better deal. Though when I think about navigating the luggage up those stairs ....
We had no trouble getting a cab outside the airport.
I think it's best to leave getting a taxi in London for only when you need it, like: when you've just arrived or leaving and you've got all your luggage, or if you're out late at night.
This is because a taxi is an expensive way to travel in London. Also if you are going to get a taxi get a Black one or one that you know is from a reputable company so as not to be charged too much for the ride (aka get 'ripped off').
And as suggested by my dear friend Henrik, I will add that in London you *do not* sit in the front seat of a taxi, you always sit in the back seat! I think mainly this is for security measures for the taxi drivers.
For more information about taxis in London see the website below.
London's iconic black cab has a surprisingly ancient history. The now defunct Corporation of Coachmen first secured a charter to ply for hire in London in 1639, the word 'cab' coming from the French, 'cabriolet de place'.
Cabs, at first, failed to attract the right kind of customer, despite being licensed by Parliament. In 1694 a group of women travelling through Hyde Park in one were so badly behaved that cab drivers were banned from driving their cabs through royal parks for the next 230 years.
Cabbies had a reputation for getting drunk and behaving badly, so much so, that a number of Victorian philanthropists paid for distinctive dark green cab shelters to be built where cab drivers could stop for lunch. The consumption of alcohol was forbidden in these shelters, along with any talk of politics. There were originally sixty-four of these shelters and around a dozen still survive today.
London's first mechanically driven taxi's made their appearance in the 1890s, but they were electric rather than powered by petrol. The novelty value of these new cabs was enormous, but they were so heavy, due to the weight of their batteries, that the horse-drawn cabs were much quicker. It took nearly sixty-years before the motorised taxis finally ruled the road.
The official name of a black cab is a 'Hackney Carriage', which comes from an old French term, 'haquenee', meaning an ambling horse or nag.
The taximeter was invented in 1891 and was introduced in London in 1907, it showed the distance travelled in the cab in order to prevent arguments with the driver about the cost of the fare, and gives the cab its familiar name.
Long after horse drawn cabs were gone, London cabbies were still governed by a number of weird rules and regulations dating back hundreds of years. For years, cabs had to be designed with a space next to the driver for a bale of hay, and enough headroom in the back of the cab to accommodate a man in a top hat, this rule was finally abolished in 1976.
Some of the old laws concerning cabs are still in existence today, but are not usually enforced. Did you know that . . .
. . . It is technically a breach of the law to hail a cab by shouting 'Taxi!' at a moving vehicle. You are supposed to go to a cab rank or what the rules quaintly define as 'a place appointed'.
. . . Cab drivers are allowed to answer the call of nature 'against the rear wheel of the vehicle, and in a seemly fashion'. In theory, any taxi driver embarrassed about doing this can ask a policeman to shield them with his cape.
. . . Taxi drivers are also forbidden to carry passengers who admit to having a notifiable disease such as bubonic plague or smallpox, and can refuse to pick up anyone they suspect of having such a disease.
. . . Cabbies also have to avoid driving too slowly. If they do they can be charged with loitering. If they are caught speeding within London's Square Mile they can be charged with 'driving too furiously'.
Although modern black cabs look pretty much the same, the classic London black cab was the old Austin FX4, which was introduced in 1958 and remained in production until 1996.
When you get off the planes at Heathrow, you may be approached by people looking to give you a ride to your hotel. Dont do it! - I dont have any bad experiences to share. But it was strongly recommended to me to only take what they call the Black Cabs. My sister and I used both the Tube and the Black Cabs exclusively to get around, when we werent being driven by our British friend. The Cabs can be a bit expensive, but they are safe, honest and quick.
Oh hint: When we heard 'only take black cabs" we were a bit confused - we werent sure if that meant the color black or the style of cab.. it's the style. - sometimes they do come in other colors or sometimes they have an advertisement on them.. those are ok too!
As well as having their own rich history (see Taxi ~ # 1) London black cabs also have their own slang.
'Arnie' - 'I'll be back!' - meaning the driver is not yet going home.
B & B - a routine check by the police ( i.e. of a driver's green badge and his license, known as a bill)
Bilker - a customer the driver suspects to do a runner (get out of the cab) without paying.
Blue Lights - police dealing with an incident.
Blue Trees - a policeman hiding behind a tree or lamppost with a speed gun.
Broom - a job the driver passes on to the next cab in the rank as he doesn't want it.
Butterfly - a part-time cabbie, who only works in nice weather.
Canary - a driver with a yellow badge, meaning he can only work in the suburbs.
Carpet - £3.00
Ching - £5.00
Churchill - a meal; Winston Churchill is said to have given cab drivers the right to refuse a fare if
they are eating.
Droshky - a taxi.
Full House - a full complement of passengers.
Hickory - hickory-dickory-dock ( i.e. clock, meaning the meter).
Legalled - receiving the correct far but no tip.
Mexican Wave - a pavement full of potential fares holding up their hands.
Oner - a long job, paying £100.00.
Penguin - a passenger going to or being collected from a formal event.
Scab - a minicab.
Set - an accident
Single Pin - solo passenger.
Stalking - working with the meter off.
Suit - city gent.
I had been warned about the London cabbies being rude. Oh and they're not all black...grey, blue, green...whatever. However my experience with them [ admittedly just the one ] was quite pleasant. My trip from Kings Cross Station to the hotel in Bayswater cost me 15 pounds and the driver was very helpful with my luggage. Unfortuneately I had no spare change for a tip but he took it well. I think perhaps he picked up on my situation and condition at that time. A bit travel weary and frazzled!
You have to take a ride in a London Taxi. The best taxi drivers in the world. Almost every one of them are friendly and every one of them knows the city backwards and forwards. If you get one to talk to, ask them about the oral exam they must pass to be a driver.
One of the most difficult times to hail a cab in London is when you leave the Theatre or a restaurant in Soho late at night (well any time after about 9 pm actually). Cab drivers tend to stay out of the area in the evening as the traffic is at a stand still and parking is impossible with every space , including Taxi ranks used by the unlicensed touts.
To solve the problem, your best bet is to take a five minute walk, just walk outside the area and you will (usually) have no problem finding a cabbie.
London is not only famous for the double deck busses but not in the least for the typical cabs!
I did't took any cab as I used the tube, the bus and for a big part my feet.
Maybe if you go out in the evening and you want to be sure to get back safe and well it is better to take a taxi.