Single females should NEVER take unlicensed mini-cabs. Check the GLA website advice regarding taxis, and minicabs. They also provide a phone number listing licensed cab firms in your area:
"You can text HOME to 60835 and receive the numbers of licensed minicab and black cab firms in the area you are texting from. This service - the first of its type in the UK - was launched by the Mayor in September 2005.
* Text charged at 35p per enquiry plus standard text message rate. Service not currently available on Virgin and 3 mobile networks."
Black cabs in London are expensive late at night - but this really is the safer option. This statement is also taken from the website:
Remember for all private hire journeys, including in a minicab, you must always book through a licensed private hire operator - unlicensed minicab drivers commit 10 sexual assaults every month.
A problem in London is unlicensed minicabs which hang about outside bars and nightclubs especially in the centre and tout for business.
There are several problems with this. Firstly, the vast majority of them are not covered by insurance for "hire and reward" i.e. taking paying passengers, so if you are unfortunate enough to have an accident you are not covered.
Secondly, if they do manage to get you to where you want to go, they charge extortionate fares, and can be quite "forceful" about collecting the money.
The third, and most serious danger, is that of sexual assault on women. Police in London estimate that on average one woman per week is raped by a bogus minicab driver. 91% of women attacked is under 35 years old, and 50% of them under 24. These bogus drivers deliberately target women who are obviously a little drunk, and who are on their own.
The advice is simple - DON'T DO IT.
If you are in the West End after midnight, you won't be able to catch a train because few trains leave after midnight. There is night bus service, but it is sketchy. You'll have to attempt to catch a taxi.
My daughter Jill and I were attending a theatre at the West End seeing Jekell & Hyde; afterwards, we had a snack and listened to music in a small place that catered to up-and-coming bands. Before we knew it, midnight had come and gone. We started walking and saw a bus. We tried to "flag it down"; the bus stopped but would not pick us up because the driver was going back to check out for the night. So, we kept on walking, trying to catch a taxi.
I tell you, we walked through some pretty frightening neighborhoods.
At last, a Taxi stopped. The driver said, "What are you doing in this area; it's like being in Harlem in New York." He was very kind and "fatherly". We were so relieved to make it back to our hotel safely.
You need to know that licensed cabs must carry a "For Hire" sign that is lit up. You can find them at "ranks" (stands); you can hail them as we did; you can phone for them.
The licensed cabs have meters Surcharges are added for luggage, extra passengers, and off-hours (such as when we hailed the cab much after midnight). Fares should always be on display.
I have nothing but admiration for the London Taxi Drivers.
In England there are very strict criteria set for people driving taxi's. Generally more expensive black "Cabs" are the safest and best way to get around as they can seat 5 people with luggage and the drivers have to take a test called "the knowledge" which basically means memorising all the streets in london and working out the fastest ways of getting a person to their destination.
there are also mini cabs (check for the hackney carriage licence on the back of the car, which you cannot hail, only call and book one, or go into taxi rank to get them.
The final form of taxi is the illegal minicab driver, you'll see them hanging around area's asking people if they want a taxi etc... or they'll pull over to you as if you've hailed them and try and get business this way. Many of these drivers are trying to make a living, which isn't a bad thing in itself but when you consider none of these drivers are licenced to carry passengers as a taxi and are therefore not insured this is where the problem lies. More so, there have been a number of rape and mugging cases because of a few of these drivers, so my advice spend the extra £5-10 and take a black cab
We took a red cab because we couldent find any black cab, we thought it was the same, the starting fare was the same but the taxi driver took long ways and small roads, it felt like he was driving in circles. So it´s better to take a Black cab.
Two men were recently jailed (Dec 2003) for the following scam - but others may try it on.
One man approached people in the arrivals hall (how he got in there was not fully explained by the newspaper report I read), whoever it seemed likely had had a taxi booked for them. His most likely prey were fresh new language students from the far east.
After enquiring of their name and if they confirmed a taxi had been pre-booked he would quietly disappear.
He then passed on the name to his accomplice who wrote out one of those welcoming signs with the victims name on. He would then approach the victim before the real taxi driver realised his fare had been nabbed.
The victim would then be duly delivered - but with an extortionate fare (up to about 1500 pounds)
This tip is to say rather be safe then sorry, there have been some unfortunate incidents involving unlicensed cabs / taxis.
My advice is to either hail a black cab which operate frequently in central London, or else obtain a mini cab direct from the company office or via phone. If you come out of a night club the door men will usually find you a cab home.
When I first arrived in London and attended our first study abroad orientation, the first thing my school administration warned us about was against riding in just ANY taxi cab in London.
Apparently just the week before, a girl coming home late from a club took an unofficial minicab and ended up being raped and murdered.
Note: TAKE AN OFFICIAL "BLACK" TAXI CAB. They are not always black because of the crazy advertisements that are plaguing all aspects of London life. They are quite distinctive looking, though they are plastered with advertisements. Make sure there's a meter in the cab and a little yellow sign atop it saying "Taxi" or "Cab" or something like that. Don't take a mini cab...for your own safety!
If you're coming home late from a pub or a club somewhere and are just too drunk to walk home...call a cab. It's safer. There are numbers for accredited cabs everywhere. Contact a local police station for the number for an accredited cab company.
There are about 50,000 minicabs in London, apparantly. The government are beginning to bring in regulations, but it is likely to remain the preserve of some very dodgy characters for some time to come.
Fares are cheaper than Black cabs at about 6 quid for a couple of miles and a couple of quid a mile thereafter. If you know a reputable firm & ring for them then it will probably be fine. If you are in a restaurant or similar there may well be adverts or cards available - or just ask.
The real dodgy geysers are those who hang around outside nightclubs in the small hours touting for business. In these situations you have got to be either really careful or preferably part of the front row of a rugby scrum.
Main tips to look out for dodgy minicab drivers :
1) Car in disgusting colour like turd brown or vomit green.
2) Car is over 10 years old (L reg and earlier)
3) More than one magic tree on the central mirror hiding a mixture of kebabs, B.O, the great smell of Brut and wet dogs.
4) The fiction that is the fare - no meters so it's all down to negotiation.
5) Do not let him take short cut on the pretence that he is learning 'the knowledge' to become a black cab driver -it's merely a ruse to extend the route and thus the fare.
6) Feel if the rear suspension is very slack - if it is he will have driven it hard over speed bumps to induce vomiting in his passengers and thus triple the fare.
For an insight into a minicab drivers lot watch the film "All or nothing" with Timothy Spall.
In London we have the usual 'black cabs' that are the London icon but also minicabs which are companies with offices or shops or booths all over London that subcontract drivers with their own cars to pick up customers who phone in with request calls.
The danger being warned of here is getting into a car with driver who says he is a minicab but straight off the street with no protection of a licenced company or anyone else being aware of the transaction. There have been many reports of rapes and muggings with unauthorised 'minicab' rides - especially pickups late at night from nightclubs or pubs when people are clearly drunk.
REcently Ive seen a number of billboards around warning against getting into a minicab straight off the street.
Ive used minicabs a lot in the years Ive been in London, especially getting to airports for early morning flights - they can be a lot cheaper and more convenient - especially when they are in your area - usually get their business cards in our mailbox wherever I have lived - and get to know which ones can be cheaper for which particular route.
Sometimes the black cabs that run on a meter can be cheaper than a minicab quote - eg from where I live to Victoria station used to £12 with a minicab - the last few times theyve quoted me £16 and occasionally Ive been able to haggle them down a bit - or a black cab has only cost me £10!...less traffic the shorter the trip if the black cab is in a hurry for you the price will be lower....
There are two types of cabs or taxis in London, black cabs (see photograph) and minicabs. Black cabs are fully licensed taxis, whose drivers will know how to take you anywhere via the shortest route. Minicabs are taxis that are run by a minicab company, whose drivers know London roughly, well enough to take you to most places, for less money than a black cab. Now, the problem stems from the fact that black cabs are very easilly recognisable and fully licensed, whereas minicabs are just standard vehicles used as taxis. They should all be licensed with a recognised minicab company but this is not always the case. Hence, a lot of people make money on the side by driving their car around in the evenings and taking paying passengers, as unlicensed minicabs.
Because thos "rogue" minicabs are not licensed, there is no way for you to get any compensation if something goes wrong during the journey. And it is not unsual to see in the papers stories about young women being assaulted by unlicensed minicab drivers. The Metropolitan Police has been regularly posting reminders for people to be extremely careful. Less serious than being physically assaulted but still extremely annoying is the fact that unlicensed minicabs don't have any fixed fares. This means that, before you agree to step into a minicab, you should always agree on the price to take you to where you want to go. It helps if you know how much to expect for the journey as the driver might be tempted to quote an unresonnable fare. For example, I've had friends who have been charged 80 pounds to go from City airport to Fleet Street, which should normally cost you 25 to 30 pounds. They thought it was expensive but as they were on a business trip, in a hurry and not too accustomed to the currency...
So, if you're on your own, female and not too sure about the price, do yourself a favour, take a black cab. You will pay more but you will arrive to your destination safe, quickly and without being stitched off.
When out and about on the town in London especially late at night, there is a certain type of low-life which trawls the street looking for unsuspecting victims. We Londoners know him as the 'taxi tout', his usaul habitat is a scruffy looking car from which he utters his mantra through an open window, 'taxi? taxi?' This low-life attempts to portray himself as a taxi to those who are visiting London and should be avoided at all costs, they attempt to lure people in, especially those who have had a drink with the sole purpose of ripping them off with exorbitant fares. They also frequent the concourses at the terminals of Heathrow airport. avoid them like the plague and only use Licensed London Taxis commonly known as 'blackcabs'. London taxis are highly regulated and the drivers are renowned the world over. For comprehensive advice on taxi fares and avoiding touts see my website for links.
There are a number of unlicensed, and therefore illegal, taxi drivers around London. There will not be anything on the outside of the car indicating that it is a taxi. The driver may stop and offer you a lift if he sees you waiting at a bus stop or at the side of the road looking as if you are waiting for a taxi.
I have to admit there have been times when I have used these. It has normally been late at night, after the tubes have stopped and when it has been almost impossible to get a proper cab.
If you decide to use one exercise caution and I would advise girls on their own against using these services.
Of course, there is no meter so a fare is agreed up front which is negotiable. The drivers have not been through 'The Knowledge' so may need to be directed in unfamiliar areas.
There are many pirate cabs operating in London and they will attempt to offer you a ride, especially if you are travelling alone. Be weary and wise - illegal cab drivers commit 10 sexual assaults each month. Therefore it is worth pre-booking cabs or knowing what information to look for to make sure the cab you use is actually liscensed. Make sure the private hire driver can confirm your name and destination before getting into the vehicle. Always sit in the back and carry a mobile phone if possible. Ensure that the vehicle has a PCO licence disc in the front and rear windscreens. Refer to the listed website for more information.
In Australia our taxis tend to belong to one of two well-known taxi cab companies.
It was a real shock to me to learn that London has 'black' cabs as well as numerous mini cab companies. At one of the Heathrow information desks I was able to find a list of mini cabs, and hoped that they were legitimate. The owner of the place I stayed told me to be careful to only use licensed mini cabs,. He told me some bad stories of people disappearing or being assualted, who had used illegal mini cabs. As a single female it is quite scary to have an unmarked car pull up where you're waiting and start to load your bags in to the car.
'Black cabs' are fares are metered. With a mini cab you organise a quote for your trip, and that's all you pay.
Basically, to get a good price on a cab shop around, but be aware that 'dodgy' mini cab firms exist.