Hasting’s Pirate Day dress rehearsal at my Uncle’s, a set on Flickr.
Decisive Moment, a set on Flickr.
Faces, a set on Flickr.Street Photography Portraits
Newest Photos, a set on Flickr.Squirrels in action
St Saint Patrick’s Day London 2012, a set on Flickr.St Patrick’s Day London 2012 photos
Newest Photos, a set on Flickr.Street Photography, up close and personal
Firstly let me say - below is the inaccurate description of London Taxis featured on Tripadvisor, the link to the page with my revisions is here http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Travel-g186338-s304/London:United-Kingdom:Taxis.And.Rental.Cars.html
In London there are two types of licensed car with driver transportation types for hire… Taxi/Hackney Carriages (London Black Cabs) and Licensed Private Hire (Minicabs).
(Hackney Carriages are Taxis. They are also called ‘London Black Cabs’ .)
(Licensed Private Hire include local ‘Minicabs’, Limousine Hire, Chauffeurs and Chauffeur Drivers, Airport Transfer Car Services and all non-hackney licensed car & driver services including Stretch Limo’s.) (Any other car & driver services offered in Greater London are illegal)
The drivers who ply the popular tourist routes can be some of the most knowledgeable and interesting people you will ever come across. Don’t hesitate to ask them questions about London as most are only too happy to talk about the local area with you. However, there is a popular misconception about London taxi drivers. Contrary to popular belief taxi drivers don’t know London like the back of their hands because “the Knowledge” test they sit only covers an area of 6 miles around Charing Cross.
The Knowledge is an interesting exam. Unlike many countries that have deregulated their taxi industries here in London a career driving a taxi is actually a REAL career choice! Stand on any street in central London and within 30 seconds (ok, that is a bit of a stretch!) you will see someone driving past on a scooter with a huge map on their handle bars as they drive around trying to prepare themselves for their knowledge test. This preparation can take years before the aspiring taxi driver has “the knowledge” required to become a certified taxi driver.
These cabs can be somewhat expensive for a long journey (London taxis are the most expensive taxis in Europe), but if you’ve got a group together going a short distance, it may end up being cheaper (as well as faster, and more pleasant) than taking the Tube. Much like in the USA, cab fares are metered and you can hail a Black Cab on most corners.
When it comes to tipping, 10% used to be customary but with the increase in fares most Londoners just round up the amount to the nearest pound. Payment in cash is normal (drivers carry change) but a small number will accept the major credit and debit cards and charge an additional fee for doing so. This can nonetheless be worthwhile for the long journeys. The taxis can belong to one of more cooperatives, such as ComCab, which can also have their own credit card. If they do, this card can be used only with member firms’ taxis.
Hailing a taxi
The way to tell that a cab is free is to look at its taxi light on top of the car. If its turned on (it will be glowing yellow) then you can hail these taxis from the side of the street. They cannot stop in intersections or in areas that are barricaded to keep pedestrians out of traffic, so move to a location where they can stop either before or after hailing the cab.
Don’t be offended if they don’t stop, they either didn’t see you or didn’t like the look of you! Drivers must, unless they have good cause, accept any hiring up to 12 miles (20 miles if starting at Heathrow Airport), or up to one hour duration, if the destination is in Greater London. If they refuse to take you, it’s within your rights to report them to the Public Carriage Office, so don’t be afraid to be firm when requesting a long ride.
There are also a number of regulations that taxis must meet, one of them is that they must be able to carry a bale of hay (don’t ask why) and they must also be able to turn on a sixpence (quite handy for narrow London roads). However, like the old Routemaster buses, the days of the London cab could soon be over as there are moves afoot to relax the taxi regulations and allow other types of cars to be used on the streets of London (the current cabs are mostly made in Coventry).Currently, Mercedes MPVs are also licensed to operate as taxis, and carry the same yellow light above the windscreen as traditional black cabs.
Black cabs also have a variety of passenger-controlled features, including a privacy/intercom system to speak with the driver, and fan and heating controls. However, there is no passenger air-conditioning, so in very hot weather a descent minicab may be preferable, but not all of these have air-con either so ask before boarding if you think this is necessary.
Here are some helpful numbers from Transport for London TfL Taxis List for pr-ordering a London Black Taxi from the biggest provider. (Be aware pre-booking a Black Cab through a company sometimes has an added fee, sometimes as much as £5, but often less).
Minicabs are normal cars which have been licensed by the Public Carriage Office so that they can be made available for hire. They can only be booked through a licensed Private Hire Operator, and not on the street. A Google search will bring up about 12 million websites for licensed companies in London - make sure they display their license number on their website, that they have a telephone number (starting 020 for London) and that you have an address, just in case anything goes wrong.
Anybody working as a private hire driver in London should have a full Public Carriage Office Driver Licence and a Fully Licensed vehicle - which can easily be checked by the round license plate in the front and rear windows. If the driver is not wearing his badge, he is not licensed to carry you. There are around 40,000 private hire drivers in London and 22,000 taxis. Reputable firms are easy to come by and you will normally get a cheaper fare with a licensed private hire operator, than if you order a Black Cab. But only Black Cabs are allowed to pick people up off the streets, minicabs must be prebooked by phone or at their office. BE WARNED: Minicabs are not metered so always agree on a price when you make your booking. When you order one by phone, to make sure you get into the one from the firm you ordered, ask the driver for the destination and check he knows your name. DONT PROMPT HIM/HER! If you want to go with a minicab company that will actually know how to get you home, it’s best to get a number from a native and call and organize a car well ahead of time.
Minicabs are perfectly safe if you pre-book. Their journeys have to be recorded at their office by law. You have the might of the Public Carriage on your side if there is a problem. NEVER get into a minicab that you have not pre-booked. You have no assurance that they are genuine. You can check to see if a office or website is actually licensed by clicking here (Public Carriage Office Website Link CLICK HERE - Transport for London (tfl.gov.uk) Private Hire Operator License Checker).
USA Fly Drive 2011, a set on Flickr.
Barcelona, Spain, 2011, a set on Flickr.
Badass burgers on Flickr.