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London cab question

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Dec 12th, 2012, 03:06 PM
  #1
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London cab question

Since I normally take the tube or walk, I'm not real cab savvy in London. Is there a minimum distance /fare for which a London cab will accept a passenger - especially on Christmas Eve? The reason I ask is I've seen Paris taxis refuse to take fares that they didn't deem far enough (to get a big tip, I'm sure) on the last shopping day or two at Christmas.

Secondly, is there a good chance I could hail a cab outside of most tube stations?

I will not be in a major shopping area, more residential if that makes a difference. Thanks in advance for any info and advice you have.
crepes_a_go_go is offline  
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Dec 12th, 2012, 03:50 PM
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I would suggest not relying on black cabs, and instead using a cab company. Try Addison lee or Swiss cottage cabs. They are not more expensive, and will be much more reliable!
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Dec 12th, 2012, 05:17 PM
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Please clarify what you are asking. It sounds like you mean you are out and about and just decide to hail a cab. A car service (like the one mentioned above) isn't for that sort of thing. They aren't allowed to pickup fares - you'd need to pre-book.

Black cabs (called that even though they are every color under the sun) will take you even short distances . . . I assume you aren't talking about 200yds or something like that. But there could be legit reasons even for that short a ride.

And sure you can hail them on the street, outside of tube stations, at train stations, all over. But just how 'residential' do you mean. Most areas are mixed and there will be cabs. But if it is a suburban residential street - no. You'd have to call for a cab (taxi) or a mini cab (car service)

Give us more details - as it is it is hard to answer your question.
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Dec 12th, 2012, 05:57 PM
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janisj, yes, rather vague I was there. I'm arriving LHR on 24 dec and I'm trying to compare taking the Express or Connect into the city vs using a car service from airport to the flat where I'm staying. The flat is .6 of a mile from the nearest tube station, but I don't know the neighborhood. Couple that with I will have been awake for over 24 hrs and will have luggage. Then add on the craziness of Christmas Eve.

I would normally say that under those circumstances, I book the car service, but I'm trying also to calculate the time it will take as I've got to get to the flat then go back out to get groceries for Christmas Day and Boxing Day, so time is valuable.

Hope this helps to get better answers. Thanks for responding, both you and Rushil.
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Dec 12th, 2012, 07:43 PM
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What tube stop are you closest to? Sometimes the express or connect will work but its sometimes a complete waste of money and taking the tube is the better option. If your tube stop is in central London a cab shop be no problem, but if its in a residential area farther out you may not find one outside the station and may need to pre-arrange. Can you be more specific?
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Dec 12th, 2012, 10:29 PM
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I'll try answering the question you asked, though it really is too vague and wrong end of the stick-like to be really answerable. I wonder if, for all your "I normally take the tube" claims, you've ever actually looked at a tube station.

By and large, with the crucial exceptions of Heathrow and very short journeys from main railway station cab ranks, London cab drivers don't have minimums: the meter starts so relatively high, the economic advantage is in the maximum number of short journeys, rather than the minimum number of long ones, during a cab driver's shift.

Insular delusions about "to get a big tip, I'm sure" are just wrong. London cab drivers generally don't give a stuff about tips: their economic imperative is maximum revenue, and that requires cramming the maximum amount of passenger-carrying into their day.

A few tube stations have cab ranks: the overwhelming majority don't, and many suburban stations with ranks never have taxis on them when you want them. Some have lots of cabs driving past: others are tucked away up culs de sac that never see a cab, others are located in busy streets where pedestrian barriers and jagged lines make hailing a taxi within 200 yds impossible, while hailing a taxi can be a doddle from some exits of a particular station and impossible from others.

I've no idea where you've got this "craziness of Christmas Eve" nonsense from. London is empty most Christmas Eves (and certainly every Christmas Eve that falls on a Monday): except around suburban supermarkets and some street markets, its shops are almost devoid of customers (which is why I usually go into London on Christmas Eve for hassle-free shopping and some gallery viewing), and almost all its offices are closed. That doesn't make getting a cab dramatically easier: Christmas is a holiday for cab drivers too, and they're as likely to start the holiday on Christmas Eve as everyone else.

Again with the exception of some roads round suburban shopping areas ("suburban" can some include inner city dense residential areas like Islington, though some of these, like Notting Hill, empty out on Christmas Eve as well), London roads on a Monday Christmas Eve are empty. Prebooked cars from airports to most destinations around London will be faster than public transport, even if you arrive during what'd be the rush hour on a normal weekday morning

For many journeys, the easiest way to travel 1 kilometre from a tube station is by bus. Put the full postcode into the TfL journey planner, and you'll end up with detailed public transport recommendations to within 10 yds (in London, the average radius of a postcode) of your front door.

Which said, if luggage is a problem, the easiest solution is to book an airport pickup from just-airports or whoever. For one person, it'll probably cost more than the sum of the tube and a local taxi - but it'll avoid what might be the unpredictable hassle of the final kilometre.

Remember virtually all shops close early on Christmas Eve, though rumours everything closes on Christmas Day are silly oudated myths put about by people who have no idea what claptrap they're spouting because they've manifestly not been on London's streets on Christmas Day for the past five years. But this mythology is especially resistant to real knowledge on web advice sites.

Substantial suburban supermarkets typically close by 1800 or earlier, though convenience stores (including petrol station C-store chains and the major supermarkets' slimmed down fascias) stay open much later. Looking at Time Out, both online and hard copy, gives essential (and reliable) survival information for the Dec 24-26 period.
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Dec 12th, 2012, 10:44 PM
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"I'm trying to compare taking the Express or Connect into the city vs using a car service from airport to the flat where I'm staying."

W/o knowing where the flat is, its impossible to tell you if that makes any sense (likely not though)

"The flat is .6 of a mile from the nearest tube station"

Which tube station. Couldmake a HUGE difference.

"but I don't know the neighborhood."

If you tell us where the flat is we can offer MUCH better advice - And give you some idea of the neighborhood. No need to keep it a secret . . .
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Dec 13th, 2012, 01:32 AM
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Details of tariffs for London taxis can be found here

http://www.tfl.gov.uk/gettingaround/...axis/1140.aspx

There is no minimum distance but a minimum charge of £2.40.

There is an extra charge of £4 for journeys made between 20:00 on 24 December and 06:00 on 27 December

...and if you soil the taxi (!) you can be charged up to £40 - fascinating
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Dec 13th, 2012, 05:05 AM
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crepes - given the length of your flight, the luggage issues, and the problem of getting to your flat at the other end, I'd go for the airport pick up with a cab service.

they could stop off on the way at a supermarket so you can get in some provisions - Flanner's excellent advice notwithstanding, you don't want to be schlepping round the shops after a 24 hours trip.
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Dec 13th, 2012, 07:09 AM
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And if you know your location, it might be worth checking what time your nearest Tesco/Sainsburys/Morrisons/Waitrose/M&S closes, as many shops do shut early on Xmas Eve (like 3-4pm). There will still be small convenience stores open, but the range in these is obviously much more limited than the larger stores.
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Dec 13th, 2012, 07:16 AM
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Oh, on the point of small distances, it is against Taxi Law (yes, such a thing exists) for a black taxi to refuse to take anyone short distances. The relevant bit of law:

"A taxi driver is under a duty to drive the hirer of his taxi to any place within the
Metropolitan Police District or the City of London not exceeding 12 miles from the
place where he was hired; or more than 20 miles in respect of a journey which begins
at Heathrow Airport, London, or for any period up to one hour from the time when he
was hired."

People take the taxi law very seriously and would think nothing of reporting a taxi driver for refusing a fare, so taxi drivers hardly ever flout the rules. It's one of the reasons our black taxis are, quite honestly, the best in the world.
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Dec 13th, 2012, 07:38 AM
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People take the taxi law very seriously and would think nothing of reporting a taxi driver for refusing a fare, so taxi drivers hardly ever flout the rules. It's one of the reasons our black taxis are, quite honestly, the best in the world.>>

Kate - IME some drivers get round it by cruising around with their lights off - they may stop but if they don't fancy the fare, they can then legitimately refuse to take you.

by which time the cab with its light on has gone sailing by!
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Dec 14th, 2012, 02:43 AM
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>>Kate - IME some drivers get round it by cruising around with their lights off - they may stop but if they don't fancy the fare, they can then legitimately refuse to take you. <<

This is pretty rare, and is usually drivers on their way home looking for one last fare that's going in their direction. Hardly routine practice.
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Dec 14th, 2012, 02:44 AM
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And why not order your groceries on line before getting on your flight from the comfort of your own home and have it delivered for a time after you know you'll be in the appartment - that way no schlepping at all!

Sainsburys, Tescos and Witrose will all deliver...

Dr D.
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Dec 14th, 2012, 02:54 AM
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Rather off topic. My daughter tripped over a kerb in Holborn and crashed into a wall, blood everywhere. A black cab driver scooped up the remains, drove her to A and E and refused payment.
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Dec 14th, 2012, 05:07 AM
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"IME some drivers get round it by cruising around with their lights off - they may stop but if they don't fancy the fare, they can then legitimately refuse to take you"

This does happen sometimes late at night - I have found that you have a better chance of stopping a taxi when their light is off when you're female and appear to be alone. They will say that they're on their way home - but if your destination is not too far away, they will take you.

MissPrism; great story!
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Dec 14th, 2012, 06:46 AM
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>> I have found that you have a better chance of stopping a taxi when their light is off when you're female and appear to be alone.<<

For the sake of absolute clarity, only try this with genuine taxis, not the kind of people in any old car who stop and hiss "Taxi?" at you. They may just be out to earn some money outside the rules, but they may well have more nefarious intentions in mind:
http://www.tfl.gov.uk/gettingaround/19463.aspx
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Dec 15th, 2012, 12:48 AM
  #18
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Thanks to you all - much food for thought.

flanner - the tip comment was about Paris taxi drivers, not London cabbies - they've always been great, as others here have given evidence of.

Dr DoGood, there's a Morrison's within spitting distance of the flat. I called them a couple of weeks ago about pre-ordering and they said they have no provision for online ordering. Must go into the store and fill out a form and pay deposit. Didn't try Tesco or Waitrose bc honestly, I didn't think a big chain would offer something like that on such a busy day. I may ring them up.

annhig, I must admit I never thought of asking the car service to stop by a grocery. Great idea, that.

Again, thanks everybody. Fodorites always have been and always will be the best!
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