Let your feet takes you to unknown places -- we certainly did a lot of walking in London. Still confused on how to take the train and the bus, my husband and I hailed cabs which is very expensive and least practical in my opinion and so we have decided to just take a bus near our hotel without exact destination and see where it will lead us... to Kensington Palace :)
way of hiring a cab.
In london there is a double tiered "taxi-cab system" Firstly the famous black taxis, which pick up from the street and secondly a mini-cab system, whereby you have to call a local firm's office to order one in advance. Minicabs are not allowed to pick up off the street, (and now thanks to the mayor's initiative ) have got to be licenced. You'll know what a licenced minicab will look like because they will have a square/diamond sticker at the front and the back of the window.
Taxis charge by distance and time, (whichever arrives first on the automated rate charge) and are generally much more expensive than their mini-cab counterparts who only charge on distance alone, (always ask the mini-cab firm which you order from, to give you a quote) and hence you do not pick up the tab for excess traffic jam's which is the case in the black taxis.
The problem has generally been, where to find mini-cab numbers from in london, and a tip given from a friend on my last trip down from proved particularly useful.
I used the map facility to find not only the firms near where i was staying, but also ones near where my business meetings where held.
It did impress a few people when they asked me "would you like us to call a cab for you",when my reply was "i've got one already on the way".
A new taxi service has been set up in London by women for women. The Pink Ladies drive Renault Kangoos that are pink inside and out, making them highly visible. Passengers sign up as members, and fares are either pre-paid, paid by credit card or with a 'pink account', which is both convenient for members and safe for drivers.
Booking is done over the phone, and a text message is sent to the customer to let her know the vehicle is approaching, which means she doesn't have to wait outside. Drivers are trained in self-defense and will wait outside a customer's home after a drop-off to ensure she gets in safely.
Full details on website
Another way to travel to the airports is by special taxi, well actually its like a van and they pick about 8 people or less from where you stay and takes you to the airport.
This is not a cheap way but sure comfortable as its available 24 hours aday.
The company name is I.L.T. Airports & tours
London taxis should only be used if you use a recognised traditional taxi. These are well run , regulated taxis that are maintained well and the drivers are well trained and will take the shortest route between places. They have to do "the knowledge" - this an intensive training scheme where they must learn all of Londons central streets and routes between them. In reality this is not always the case in practice and although their central London streets they can occasionally be caught out in streets in the suburbs but due to the size of the area this is understandable.
Taxis can be hailed by putting your arm out and indicating to the driver to stop. They can also be pre-booked and the website link has full details.
After having travelled well over 60 countries around the world, i have to say that London is close to being the only place in the world where i enjoy going by taxi.
For some reason they have still managed to keep taxi driving an honorable ob done by people who put pride in to doing it well and not just a bunch of idiots trying to take you for a ride in order to earn an extra buck.
I have taken the black cabs many times in London and have not yet been ripped off.
that is very unusual in my opinion.
I might ad here that i am only talking about the old fashioned black cabs here.
the mini cabs are just the same piece of rubbish that taxi driving is around the world.
Take a black cab in London if you want to be reminded that honest taxi drivers still excist.
I was always told that using the black taxi's are extremely expensive, they are not. We had to use them getting from the station to our accommodation as that was all that was available from Victoria station and it worked out exactly the same as the normal taxi would have costed us.
If you experience a transport strike, an alternative is using a taxi from the Heathrow Airport ie heathrowminicabs.com or heathrowairport-taxi.co.uk The first is tel 0208 574 0868
They have a MINIBUS SERVICE from Heathrow Airport too which is same number 0208 574 0868
Use black cab taxis only for short journeys inside Central London at daytime. They are cheaper and faster then. For long distances & airport transfers use a licensed minicab. You can always trace the minicab you prebooked especially at night times.
I was always told that the Black cabs were extremely expensive. Yet they charged me less that the "normal" taxi's to get from Victoria Station to my friends flat near Waterloo station. I had to use them with all my luggage, could not face taking the train and then walking the 500 meters to her flat with all that luggage.
Minicabs are private cars and vehicles used as taxis - they are licensed and have depots in which to telephone or arrive in person at the depot to get transport - there has been an issue or there are general warnings not to hail minicabs off the street (as anyone with a car can say they are a minicab and there have been complaints of rapes and assaults - especially women who are drunk leaving nightclubs for transport home alone).
'Kwik Cars' is a firm in my area that I tend to use whenever Ive needed a taxi eg when ended up running late for my travel to an airport and decided I have to go by taxi - either to the trainstation or perhaps to the closest underground tube station or overground train station.
It can also be the cheaper and more convenient option to travel out to your departing airport if there is more than 2 or 3 of you.
London 'black' cabs can still be hailed from the street and have been handy if theyve happened to go past when Ive needed them but this cant be depended on if youre urgent or at a quiet time of the night - plus for long trips they will be a lot more costly than a minicab - for shorter trips a Black cab can actually be a lot cheaper (eg £7 from near my place to Clapham Junction vs £12 quote from a minicab company).
Something which I learnt recently, I feel I should pass on. There are 2 main types of taxi in the UK, hackney carriage (black cabs) and private hire minicabs. Hackney carriages are most commonly found in London and can be flagged down or hired from a taxi rank, much like in the way you'd flag down a New York cab. Mini cabs, however, need to be prebooked by telephone or by going to the particular taxi firms office. Mini cabs tend to be more common outside of London so its a good idea to ask in your hotel for some taxi numbers should you need them.
I did not know this and in the past have flagged down mini cabs. Luckily the drivers saw me as a business opportunity and nothing more and I made my way safely but if I had flagged down a bogus taxi, anything could have happened to me.
See the wikipedia link below for more info and photos.