DO NOT hail a taxi on the street in Mexico City. I was warned by multiple people that this is an unsafe practice. NEVER get into one of these little green Volkswagon Beetle cabs. Tourists have been known to be robbed or kidnapped in these vehicles. If you need a cab, be sure to call for one or get one at a sitio (a taxi stand with a dispatcher). They charge slightly more, but you are much less likely to get robbed. Having a restaurant or a hotel call a taxi is the safest way to do it.
The danger of theft or worst from a taxi ride is a well publicized concern in Mexico City. It is often recommended that you avoid the small "VW beatle" independents. It seems that they are the taxis most likely to be stolen for criminal purposes.
The rule for safety should be to chose your taxi rather that let it chose you. The radio or sitio taxis are slightly more expensive and easier to trace so probably less likely to be stolen, and when you call for one you are doing the chosing. Similarly you can chose the authorized taxis at airports and bus stations which have a good reputation. In other situations, you will find that restaurants, clubs and hotels will happily call a taxi for you or direct you to a driver they know. I still often flag down a taxi on the street although I have read people advising against this. In my opinion, it is certainly safer than taking a non-sitio taxi waiting outside a tourist spot, club or restaurant. Of course, it makes sense to avoid taxis with more than one person inside and to try to glance at the drivers ID hanging from mirror before you get inside for a long trip.
You should assume all taxi drivers are thieves in Mexico City and act accordingly.
Even if we forget about taxi drivers that actually take you in some remote location before robbing you, you still need to be paranoid about cab drivers.
In Mexico, taxis don't have meters and you, as a foreigner, are a relatively easy prey for money-sucking vampires.
Avoid taking cabs if possible. Use the metro instead. If you must take a taxi, ask for someone at your hotel to call one for you and help you in determining the price for your ride.
Never leave personal objects in the taxi if you get out of it expecting the driver to wait for you.
To avoid problems, always expect the worst with cabs and keep a paranoid attitude towards them. They often rip off locals and they almost always try to rip off tourists.
Most of the time you will not have any problems when you take the metro, but you should still take care. There can be lots of people crammed inside there, so take care with your belongings. I know a lot of people that got both themselves and their pockets picked...
Another thing to watch out for is people that are very helpful... If you ask someone for help or directions they will most of the time stop and help you. But if someone stops you and ask if you need help you should be very cautious...
This happened to us once we took the metro. A man approached us and asked where we were going. We told him, and "luckily" he was going the same way. What a coincidence... The only problem was that he was going the complete opposite way of what we were going. He insisted this was the right way, but we knew it wasn't and didn't want to go there. We wouldn't have followed him anyway, no matter how nice he seemed.
He was talking plenty and was so nice and charming. The nicer he got, the more suspicious we got... We tried to get away from him many times, but he kept following us and saying he would show us the right way. In the end we had to go to a policeman and pretend we were asking for directions, and then he disappeared very quickly...
All over the net and in many guidebooks it is written that you should not take the green VW beetles when you want to take a taxi in the city. There are plenty of these taxies everywhere, and they have a very bad reputation. A lot of both tourists and mexicans have been kidnapped, raped, robbed or other things.
Many times the taxies have been stolen, and are driven by criminals. No matter which taxi you take you should always look if they have an ID-card in the frontwindow, and that it fits with the driver. There should also be a number on the taxi that is the same as on the ID-card.
If you want a safe taxi you should take one that is in a sitio, and not hail one on the street. There are also some tourist taxies but these are generally more expencive than the others.
I took a few different kinds of taxies, but I never tried the green VW beetles though. Sometimes I took them from a sitio and other times I stopped them in the street. It wasn't always that they had a ID-card, but I never had any problems. The most scariest time was when the driver had a gun in his hand the whole time, but he got us to our destination and nothing bad happened in any of the taxies.
Traffic will only stop when the light is red. Unlike in many places you may have been, such as Vancouver or Amsterdam, pedestrians have virtually no rights. As a matter of fact, most traffic lights turn red only to let vehicles from a cross street have a turn. Cars will also advance a signal, especially when it is about to change, so don't even try to make a mad dash across if you see that the pedestrian light flashes.
In most cities, catching a cab is the easiest and among the safest modes of transportation.
*****Not in Mexico City.******
1) Never accept a ride from a "taxi" that pulls up along a street. Don't even speak to a supposed taxi driver if the car doesn't look like a cab.
2) Don't hail a taxi that is traveling down the street. If you need to get a taxi on the street, call a "sitio" or authorized radio taxi. See the phone number below. Restaurants and shops can call cabs for you. Ask the person calling to get the car number of the cab they are sending. This way you can make sure that the cab that pulls up is really the one you're expecting.
3) Avoid the VW beetle taxis, even if they are licenced. These are frequently involved in robberies of tourists. While there are plenty of law-abiding cabbies driving these cars, why take the risk? You may be literally in mortal danger. Yes, brutally violent beatings and murders have occurred. You may be kidnapped and driven to an ATM machine and forced to withdraw funds.
4) Never take taxis that are parked outside nightclubs, restaurants, and the Belas Artes museum. The frequency of robberies is even higher among these.
5) Make sure the taxi has a large, laminated licence card visible inside the car. It has the driver's name and photo on it. Check to make sure the person driving and the person in the photo are the same. Also be sure that the taxi *looks* like a cab, with numbers painted on the white plastic roof, the words "sitio" or "taxi" painted on the doors, and with a meter.
6) All sitio taxis are metered. If the driver doesn't have a meter or if he says it's broken, don't ride with him.
7) Consider using a "turismo" taxi. These are more expensive than sitio taxis, but are the safest way to move around. They are unmarked and do not use meters. Ask at your hotel about arranging for a "turismo" car and driver.
When you're looking out your window on the plane, waiting in line for take-off there on the MEX tarmac, it's very comforting to see just how close the riff-raff can get to the aircraft from across the street there at the McDonald's. NOT. Enlarge this picture, and you'll see all the clowns have to do is walk across that little bridge over the highway and bingo! they're at the edge of the damn runway. No one has stopped them from bringing God-knows-what kind of troublemaking devices with them. Put two and two together. Top-notch security, that's what this is. ;-O
Forget the fact they drive terribly... Forget the fact they will probably try to cheat on you and collect more money... The problem with them is that not all of them are really taxi drivers but assaultants that will take you to a lonely place and take EVERYTHING of you...
If you have to take a taxi, go to a hotel and ask for a "taxi de sitio" they will have the phone or stop a real taxi for you...
If you HAVE to take one from the street, look for the big identity card that they SHOULD have in a visible place...
Avoid at all costs taking taxis on the street.
There's been really bad cases of robberies, sexual assaults, and other violent crimes (including killings) perpetrated by taxi drivers and/or accomplices. See Lonely Planet Travelers Book for Mexico for more info.
Rather, call renowned taxi firms, and ask:
-name and ID number of the taxi driver coming to pick you up
- number plate of the taxi
You can also ask someone reliable (ex: hotel clerk) to note the plate number and where you intend to go.
Taxi Radio Mex
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