London taxi fares are expensive. If you’re travelling alone then you’ll almost certainly be better off catching a tube train or London bus, because you can easily blow ten pounds in ten minutes just travelling one mile between Trafalgar Square and St. Paul’s.
|Note: This taxi fare calculator is meant as a rough guide only because the cost changes depending on the time of day, and how long the cab journey takes. These are the minimum and maximum prices you can expect to pay|
|Fares around central London|
|1 mile (6–13 mins)||£6 to £9.60|
|2 miles (10–20 mins)||£9.20 to £15|
|3 miles (13–25 mins)||£12.60 to £23|
|4 miles (16–30 mins)||£16 to £28|
|5 miles (21–35 mins)||£20 to £31|
|6 miles (28–40 mins)||£24 to £34|
|Fares from an airport to central London|
|Heathrow airport (30–80 mins)||£48 to £90|
|Gatwick airport (70–90 mins)||£110 to £150|
|Stansted airport (60–90 mins)||£135 to £155|
|Luton airport (60–80 mins)||£115 to £135|
|London City airport (30–50 mins)||£30 to £90|
|Note: An extra few pounds is usually added to airport fares to cover the driver’s parking costs. This will be shown on the meter before your journey begins|
The cab fare can fluctuate quite wildly depending on the time of day you travel, and how lucky you are with the traffic (which can be quite horrendous in central London). The cost will always be 10% higher late at night (8 PM to 10 PM, Mon-Fri), and during the weekend (5 AM to 10 PM, Sat-Sun). And it will be 20% higher in the early hours of the morning (10 PM to 5 AM, Mon-Sun). The table above takes all of this into account – the highest prices shown are the ones that include the 20%.
London taxis cost an extra £4 if you travel over the Christmas or New Year period – 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th, 31st Dec and 1st Jan.
It is customary to give the cab driver a tip as well. 10% tip is an oft-quoted figure, but most people will just round up to the nearest pound, or the nearest £5, so the taxi driver doesn’t have to root around for change.
Note: If you soil the taxi for any reason (the usual reason being because you’re drunk), then the cab company will charge you an extra £40 to get it cleaned.
London taxi cabs impose a minimum fare of £3, which will appear on the meter before you start. You’ll also have to pay another £2 on top if you pre-book a black cab over the phone. [Note: the price differs between taxi companies, so it might be more.]
Yes. Black cabs take credit card payments or cash.
No – you always pay whatever is showing on the meter at the end.
The only exception is when your taxi journey takes you outside central London, in which case the black cab driver might be prepared to agree a fee with you – but he is under no obligation to. If you want the certainty of a fixed fare then you really should be using a minicab.
Black taxis are more cost-effective when you’re in a group of three or more people. That’s because licensed taxis in London can fit up to five people and you only pay one fare between all five of you.
Three people can sit on the forward-facing sofa seat, and two more can sit on the jump seats (the fold-down seats). But remember that you have to squeeze all of your luggage inside the same space, so if you have some bulky bags then you might struggle to sit four.
All modern black taxis are wheelchair accessible. The driver can place a ramp between the floor of the car and the street, allowing you to ride up and park your wheelchair inside. You don’t even have to get out of it if you don’t want to – it can be securely fastened in place by seat belts.
You can pre-book a black taxi in London and have it meet you somewhere. Transport for London provide telephone numbers and web addresses for some reputable cab companies on their website: tfl.gov.uk/modes/taxis-and-minicabs/book-a-taxi. Most of the companies will allow you to order a black cab online
Be aware that pre-booking a taxi in advance will add a few pounds onto the meter before you start. The exact cost will depend on how far they had to travel to meet you.
Hailing a cab in London is easy. You can either flag it down in the street or look for a taxi-rank outside an airport, a popular tourist spot, or most of the big mainline train stations (National Rail stations like Euston, King’s Cross, Liverpool Street, Paddington and Victoria).
Underground stations do not usually have taxi ranks.
The taxi service should be available whenever its orange ‘Taxi’ sign is lit upon the roof. Just stick your arm out and wave it down. If the light is out, then it probably already has a passenger.
There are two main differences between the black taxi service and minicabs. The first is the shape. Taxi cabs are the ones shown in the photo above, with an orange ‘Taxi’ light on the roof. They are usually painted black. Minicabs, however, have no basic shape at all, because they just use normal everyday cars.
The second big difference is the way you pay. Taxi cabs all come equipped with ticking meters, so you can see exactly how much you’re spending as you drive along. The driver may be able to give you a rough idea of the price before you set off, but you will not know the final price until you reach your destination. If your journey takes longer in the traffic, then the amount you pay will rise.
Minicabs rarely have a meter inside, and tend to quote you a final price before you start. If you want the certainty of a fixed fare then you are better off with a minicab.
There are three more differences that are worth mentioning. The first one is that taxi drivers are subjected to an Enhanced Criminal Record check before receiving a licence. (That’s not to say that minicab drivers are unsafe, of course… just that they are not subjected to the same kind of rigorous checks.)
The second is that taxicabs are allowed to use most of the bus lanes, whereas minicabs are not. If you’re in a rush and are expecting a lot of traffic then this might be worth remembering. And the final difference is the inclusion of a glass partition between the driver and passengers. Taxi cabs have these. Minicabs do not.
Unless they have a good reason not to (ie. you’re drunk), a taxi driver is obliged to accept any journey of up to twelve miles from the pick-up point, or within one hour’s driving time – provided that the destination is within Greater London. They should also accept a journey of up to twenty miles if it begins at Heathrow Airport.
If you lose something in a London black taxi (but not a minicab) then it will be dealt with by Transport for London’s Lost Property Office at 200 Baker Street.
You can either phone them at 0343 222 1234 or use their online form at https://tfl.gov.uk. You’ll have to give them a detailed description of the item and then wait ten days for a result. If they don’t find it within three weeks then they will end the search.
If you get lucky then you can collect it from their lost and found office after paying a small fee and showing some ID (8.30 AM to 4 PM, Mon-Fri). You can also have it couriered to you for an extra cost.