The typical taxi in London is one of the emblematic icons of the British capital, and it is the one that comes to mind when we think of a London taxi. But, if you know that you are going to need a taxi when you visit London, it will be good for you to know that there are two types of taxis in London: black cabs and minicabs.
In this article we are going to tell you what differences there are between the two types of taxis that you are going to find in London.
What will you find in this article?
The Black Cab: The typical taxi in London
The Black Cab , also called London Cab or simply Taxi is what we all have in mind, but I must say that although most of this type of London taxis are still black, there are also many colors. This typical London taxi is easily recognizable by its unique design. If you visit London, and you need the services of a taxi, the safest thing (also because you will want to get into one) is that you get into one of these.
How London black cabs work
By law, the Black Cab is the only taxi that can be hailed on the street and they will indicate if they are free by flashing a taxi sign on the front of the car. Before getting in, it is advisable to ask the driver through the window where you want to go, and when he says yes, get in the taxi. The driver of a black cab must always have their license displayed on the inside and must have a plate with the license number on the outside of the car. They are metered and regulated by the London Public Carriage OfficeAnd they can’t charge you more than what the meter says. Rates vary based on time of day, distance traveled, and vehicle speed. They are highly regulated and cannot “take advantage” of their customers, and must always take the fastest route. These taxis, as long as you see that they have the license exposed, are the safest and most recommended to use at night.
Conclusion: Never get into a taxi that hails on the street unless it’s a licensed London Black Cab.
London taxis normally have 5 seats (plus the driver’s seat) although some have up to 8 seats, making them perfect for group travel. They are also all prepared for disabled and wheelchair access, as we explain in our guide to accessible London.
Being a Black Cab driver is not easy at all. In order to be a Black Cab driver you need to study for two years and pass a final exam known as “The Knowledge”. They must memorize more than 20,000 streets in London and know which are the fastest routes.
Payment methods when using a black cab or black taxi
By using a black cab, one of the typical London taxis, you can pay with cash or by debit or credit card. It is also possible to use a contactless card.
The Minicab, the taxi that is ordered from London
Minicabs work in a different way . Minicabs are private cars, usually working for a minicab company and offering taxi service. There are minicab offices dotted around the streets of London, at train stations and at airports. It is only possible to reserve a minicab in advance, either through their website, by phone or at their office, it is not possible to catch one by raising your hand on the street.
The best thing about minicabs is that, as they do not use a meter, they have a fixed price for each journey, so there are no surprises. Some minicab companies in London are not yet licensed, so for safety we advise you to check that they have a license. If so, you will see that somewhere in the office or on their website it says “Licensed”.
What is the best way to book a taxi in London?
If you are starting to plan a trip to London , and you think you are going to need to use the services of a taxi, it is important that you know what differences there are between using the typical London taxi and reserving a minicab.
If you are going to make a short trip within the city of London, for example, from a tube station to the hotel, or from a tourist spot to another that is not very far away, then you will surely be able to use the typical black cab. It is the most touristic option, without a doubt!
To go from one place in London to another, we would normally ask for a minicab, unless it is a very short distance and it is more convenient for us to raise our hand to stop a black cab.
To get from London airport to the city center, it is best to book a minicab. It is the cheapest way to go by taxi to central London from the airport. In addition, you can use a search engine and choose the minicab company that you like the most (or the cheapest). To search for routes and compare minicab companies, we recommend Minicabit.