A Guide to UK Taxis: Travel Safety Advice

19th July 2019 Jess Kadel News and Events

After a late night out or a long day exploring, a bus or a train can feel like the last place you want to be. If you want your own space and a quick way to get from A to B, taxis are one of the simplest and fastest ways of getting around. Our guide gives you all the tips and tricks to using UK taxis, including the average fares and how to stay safe.

Related: The Best Way To Travel Around London: Underground, Bus, Walking, Cycling?

What is the difference between a taxi and a minicab?

In general, taxis have a metered system, which will calculate the price of the journey as they go. These operate from taxi ranks and can be flagged down on the street. You’ll recognise the signature ‘black taxi’ shape when you see one! A minicab, however, can be prebooked by calling in advance. While taxis calculate the journey as you go, minicabs will quote you a fixed price beforehand.

An image of UK taxis

How much is a UK taxi?

The price of UK taxis will differ largely depending on which city you’re in and obviously the distance you’re travelling. You can expect anything from £3-£6.60 per mile in London, after the initial £3 fare regardless of journey length. However, this can be cheaper in smaller cities. For example, Liverpool offers one of the cheapest prices per mile, at an average of £2.15.

Another factor which will affect price is the time you’re travelling, for example if you venture out in the middle of the night, or during popular times such as Christmas and New Year, the price can sometimes be double the daytime fare.

See TFL for average London taxi prices.

Can a taxi driver refuse a fare?

In the UK, it’s considered a criminal offence for a taxi driver to refuse a fare without a reasonable excuse. However, what consists as reasonable often differs. Common reasons for a journey being denied include:

  • A passenger being excessively drunk or threatening
  • The taxi already being prebooked for jobs
  • The taxi driver waiting to pick up a friend
  • The taxi driver not wanting to go to the destination for safety reasons

Do taxis take card in the UK?

According to TFL, all licensed London taxis must be fitted with a card payment device. However, this may again differ in smaller towns. If in doubt, it’s best to ask before you get in the vehicle. Bear in mind that sometimes paying by card may result in extra charges.

How to get a taxi

You can get a taxi in three different ways:

  1. Hail a taxi – This involves waving a taxi down that you see in the street. This can only be done with licensed taxis and not minicabs.
  2. Go to a taxi rank – This simply involves walking to a chosen taxi rank and telling them your destination.
  3. Call in advance – This applies to minicabs and is helpful if you have a specific time and pick up venue.
Man hailing a taxi

Staying safe in UK taxis

In general, UK taxis are safe and there’s nothing to worry about, however, there are some do’s and don’ts to ensure your safety. For example, it’s not safe to get in a minicab unless you have pre-booked it. This is because they are only supposed to take jobs which have already been arranged, so it may seem suspicious if they offer to take you home. So, avoid flagging down private hire taxis on the street.

Other safety recommendations include:

  • Don’t let an overly drunk friend travel alone
  • Likewise, try not to travel alone if you’re too drunk
  • Ensure your phone is charged before the night out
  • Ensure the vehicle is licensed and has an ID badge
  • Sit in the backseat instead of the passenger seat

What’s the difference between taxis and Uber?

If you’d rather avoiding walking to a taxi rank or trying to hail down a cab, then Uber is one of the most popular ways of getting around London. Simply book an Uber from their handy app and a driver can be with you in minutes. The main advantage of using Uber over a taxi is that you pay via the app. So it’s perfect if you don’t have any cash on you.

We hope this helps you get from A to B. Safe travels!

Jess Kadel

Jess Kadel

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