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A taxicab in Beijing

Taxicabs (also known as "taxis" or "cabs") are a type of vehicle used to provide privately arranged transportation to a person or group of people traveling together. While using the same basic principle of individual transportation for a fee everywhere, the system used by taxicabs varies from places to place.

Taxicabs are a useful way to travel within a metropolitan area, especially where public transport is non-existent, minimal, impractical, time-consuming, unsafe, or unknown to the traveler.

There is a good chance you will find yourself needing a taxicab while traveling away from home. The "get around" section of the article on many places will describe the conditions of taking a taxicab in that place.

Fees charged

In most places, taxicabs charge, taxicabs charge passengers using an electronic meter. The meter measures the price charged to the passenger. In many places, the passenger may be charged based on multiple factors. Some of those factors are:

  • Base fare, charged to all just for initiating the ride
  • Per distance fare, charged in accordance with distance traveled 
  • Standing fare, charged by time sitting at red lights or in traffic 
  • In some places, a zone system is used, and passengers are charged based on the number of zones through which they travel
  • In some places, there is a flat fare for travel from Point A to Point B

Base fare

The base fare that is charged for riding in a taxicab may seem like a lot. But it is there for the good of the passenger. It serves as an incentive for the driver to minimize the amount of time he spends transporting you. If not for the base fare, the driver may want to make your ride longer and take a long roundabout route in a place you are unfamiliar with in order to increase his own profits. But with a high base fare, the driver is interested in getting more base fares, and therefore, getting each customer over with more quickly so he can move onto another customer and another base fare.


In most countries, it is expected that you tip your cabbie (see tipping for details).

An extra tip should be given if the operator assists you with heavy luggage or otherwise goes beyond his call of duty to help you.


Cash in the currency of the country where the taxicab is located is generally the accepted form of payment for all taxicabs. In some places, taxicabs will also accept payment in currencies of other countries, credit cards, or debit cards.

Hiring a taxicab

There are different ways in which a taxicab can be hired. This varies by location.

  • In some cities, taxicabs can be found all over the streets and can be flagged down or 'hailed.' In other places, taxicabs are not allowed to stop when flagged down.
  • By calling the taxicab company and arranging a ride. In such a places, it is helpful to know the numbers to one or more companies.
  • At a taxi stand. These are often found at airports, train stations, bus stations, hotels, restaurants, attractions, and other places.
  • At the front desk of some places, you can simply ask the attendant to call you a cab


When it comes to the word of taxicabs, most safety measures are on the driver as opposed to the passenger. According to OSHA, a taxicab driver is four times more likely to get murdered on the job than a police officer.

In many places, a divider is placed between the front and back seats of a taxicab in order to give the driver a bulletproof screen. 

In some taxicabs, drivers have the ability to lock passengers in the rear seats and detain them. This is not legal in all places. This is also used to assure that passengers do not leave without paying their fare.

Illegal cabs

In most places, taxicabs must be licensed to operate. This does not mean all taxicabs will be operating legally. Since enforcement is often laxed, plenty of illegal cabs cruise the streets of many cities.

Illegal cabs may charge higher or lower fares than the going rate. Basically, since they are not operating legally, they are not following the fare regulations set by the jurisdiction.

Also, since they are lacking of regulation, the vehicles used may not be in compliance of safety regulations set forth by the jurisdiction. In some cases, the driver may himself be out of compliance, may not be insured, and may not be licensed to operate a vehicle.

Even more risky is to receive taxicab services from a vehicle not even marked as a taxicab. This, likewise, is illegal in most places, and, likewise, is minimally enforced. Such vehicles may not be in sound operating condition, may lack insurance, and the operators may lack licenses. Their backgrounds also may be unknown.