London, Transport

The London Taxi

The London taxi, properly known as a Hackney Carriage, is the best in the world. Really. It has no rival. Is this news surprising? It is news. Not my opinion. From comments I’ve read around the world, it appears so. Which I found surprising. Unlike most taxis around the world, the Hackney Carriage is a purpose built vehicle. Unlike most cities around the world, the drivers know every nook and cranny of the city they serve. Their training course, the Knowledge, is thorough. The charges come from a regulated meter, and aren’t too outrageous. And the cars are comfortable.

I tip my invisible hat to ye, Hackney Carriage drivers of London. Never was a taxi so easy to get into and out of, nor swallow so many bags, nor sit so many people comfortably. It also looks fantastic. Along with soldiers wearing bearskin hats, red post and phone boxes, double decker buses and Big Ben, the Hackney Carriage is an instantly recognised London icon.

Where did Mexico come? Tied fifth, a great result. I don’t know whether to be surprised at this result or not. Taxis in Mexico City have the worst reputation ever! And yet, providing you’re not going too far (it’s a big city, and I’ve been in more than one taxi where the driver got lost on a south to north jaunt) then it’s cheap, cheerful and there’s a plentiful supply of taxis to choose from. You do need a choice though. Some times the ‘meter isn’t working’. Which is taxilingo for ‘it’s a gringo, he’s got the cash, why not milk him of as much of it as possible’. Which didn’t work on me. It shouldn’t work on anyone….just take the next damned taxi that will come along in about…oh, say about fifteen seconds?


6 thoughts on “The London Taxi

  1. I’ve always had good experiences with London taxis. The drivers are courteous, amazingly knowledgeable, and for an American, it’s always an amazing adventure, sitting on the “wrong” side of the car and driving on the “wrong” side of the street. London is like a sort of warren, and it’s amazing they can find their way at all. Also, considering how expensive the Tube is for short journeys, the taxis are quite competitive.

    As for Mexico City, I have a post in the works about taxis there. They are in a class of their own. What they lack in the knowledge possessed by a London taxi driver, they more than make up for in sheer lunacy. There are a few pretty impressive chaps though. F and I one night took a taxi, and the driver was TRULY AMAZING. We hit one traffic jam after another, and this guy knew every single back street in DF. He took us around traffic jams that seemed impenetrable. I wish I had gotten his phone number. That’s a guy you’d want to be able to call when the going got tough.


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where the taxi drivers frequently need to be given directions.


    • I look forward to that post! I remmber watching Simon Reeve’s series, Tropic of Cancer. He didn’t have such a good experience with taxis. One deliberately drove into them, in order to demand money for ‘repairs’. Even being blatantly filmed by the BBC didn’t put them off. The police arrived. The taxi driver and police officers were related. And a bribe was paid.


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