Taxi in London – Getting Around in London

London black cabs parked on London taxi rank

If you are travelling to London, there are a few things to keep in mind, particularly when it’s your first time to visit. While the city has a very good public transport network, using a taxi in London is more convenient than travelling on a bus or tube. 

You can take a taxi to London straight from Heathrow airport and enjoy the views on your way to the British capital.   

The advantages of travelling in taxis are many, but most importantly, they are available day and night throughout the year.  Not even public holidays nor bad weather can interrupt a taxi service.

There are two types of taxis in London, the famous traditional ‘London Black cabs’ and private hires that include ‘Minicabs.’ 

What are London Black Cabs?

Black cab taxis are not just black, they can be of any colour.  They are the only taxis that can be stopped on the streets, or take passengers from taxi ranks.  But they can also be booked by apps, telephone, and online with a fee. 

London Taxi Cab | Black Taxi in London
London Black Cab

Black cab taxis have yellow light marked “TAXI” signs on the roof and two license plates, one affixed to the rear of the vehicle and another inside the passenger compartment.   The drivers are expected to display their oval-shaped green badges when on duty. 

They carry no more than 5 passengers, three on the main back seat and two on fold-up seats facing them.  This means all the passengers and luggage sit in the back, there is no seat next to the driver.

These are purpose-built vehicles for carrying passengers in comfort and safety.  That’s why the interior is partitioned to give the passengers their own space during the journey. 

All passenger seats are padded well, and the other two seats have hinges that allow the horizontal part to fold up out of the way when they aren’t in use. Travelling in a black cab is the most comfortable way of getting around London.  

Although expensive, black cabs provide a flexible transport service in London and can be faster, as they are permitted to use some bus lanes in the city.

Related: Things to Know Before Traveling to London: Oyster Card or Contactless

The cab drivers are as famous as the taxis they drive and have in-depth knowledge of London.    

They know the quickest route to your destination, always avoiding all the traffic congestion and chaos that you find every day on London’s streets.

How to Get a Black Taxi in London?

London taxi service means you can hail a black cab on street or get it from many designated taxi-stands or ranks around London – particularly at airports, hotels, events or entertainment venues, bus and train stations. 

Taxi in London Cost
Getting A Taxi in London

To hail a London taxi on the street, this is what you do: 

  • When you see the yellow “TAXI” sign on top of the roof illuminated, that cab is available for passengers. If the TAXI sign is not lit, the cab is either off-duty or there’s a passenger inside. 
  • Step off the pedestrian pavement onto the street-side, but away from bus stops, pedestrian crossings, or double red lines.  And don’t put yourself in danger of being hit by moving cars. Stick out your arm when the taxi is approaching, it will stop right next to you.
  • Then go to the left front window and tell the driver where you want to go.  Black cab drivers know every street-turn in London.  Just mention either the address or your destination, the driver will know where it’s located and how to get there as quickly as possible.
  • If the taxi drivers say no, you can ask for the reason why before they drive away.  Unless there’s a valid reason not to, London black cab drivers are legally required to accept and take passengers wherever they want to go up to 12 miles or up to an hour duration.  In addition, they must accept passengers travelling up to 20 miles from Heathrow Airport taxi stands or ranks.

How Much is a Taxi in London?

London Taxi Fares:

Fares are set and regulated by “Transport for London” a government body responsible for the city’s public transport.  

In every black cab taxi, there must be a card on display like the one below, outlining how the fare structure is set.

This table illustrates taxi fares in London and journey times based on the distance for different tariffs

Distance

Approx. Journey Time

Monday to Friday 5 am – 6 pm

Monday to Friday
8 pm – 10 pm
Saturday and Sunday
5pm – 10pm

Every night
10 pm – 5 am
Public Holidays

1 Mile

6 – 13 minutes

£6 – £9.40

£6 – £9.60

£7 – £9.60

 

2 Miles

10 – 20 minutes

£9.20 – £14.60

£9.60 – £14.80

£10.60 – £15

 

4 Miles

£16 – 30 Minutes

£16 – £23

£17 – £24  

£18 – £28

 

6 Miles

28 – 40 Minutes

£24 – £31

£30 – £33

£30 – £34

There’s a minimum fare of £3.00 at the beginning of every trip, and thereafter, the taximeter will start to tick over on the time and distance of the journey. 

The fare will be displayed on a taximeter throughout your journey, ensuring a fair and transparent cost for the trip.   

When you get to your destination, pay the amount you see on the taximeter and don’t worry too much about the tip.  It’s not a requirement to tip nor should it be expected by the driver.  

However, some passengers do tip 10-15% of the taxi fare for black cabs in London.

There may be extra charges if:

  • The taxi driver waited or was held up by traffic 
  • You’ve travelled with more than four adult passengers, each will pay an extra £1.00.
  • Your destination was to the airport and the taxi driver had to pay for entry to the airport
  • You soiled the taxi and requires the vehicle to be cleaned — the charge is up to a maximum of £75.00. 

Do London Taxis Take Credit Cards?

Yes, London black cabs take credit cards, debit cards, and other contactless payment devices like Apple pay, Samsung pay.  All London black cabs have card payment devices that accept contactless payments fitted in the passenger compartment and can print receipts if needed. 

There are no extra charges for paying by debit and credit cards or other contactless devices.   But you can always pay your fare by cash.

Do London Black Cabs Take Wheelchairs?

All licensed London taxis are wheelchair accessible, but also have a range of accessibility aids such as hearing induction loops, intercoms, rotating seats, high visibility seat panels, wheelchair ramps, and high visibility grab handles.  

Private Hire Vehicles – Minicabs in London

Private Hire Vehicles – minicabs can be anything but generally they are standard cars like the one you see anywhere on the streets.  They don’t have a separation between a driver and a passenger. 

Minicabs are usually cheaper compared to the black cabs. However, you can’t hail a minicab on the street or find one on a taxi rank.  

It can only be pre-booked through a private minicab office, who must provide the passengers with booking confirmation before starting their journey. 

A good read: The Greatest City in the World: What is London famous for?

Minicabs do not have taximeters fitted and so drivers can charge any fare they want.  They guess and set the fare based on the distance to a destination they may not even be sure of. 

So, it’s always better to agree on a fixed fare when booking, not after starting your journey.  Minicabs can’t use bus lanes in case of traffic congestion.

Passenger safety is important on London’s streets.  The number one advice is to never jump into a minicab which is not pre-booked. 

Some minicab drivers don’t know the London streets as black cab drivers, so you can end up anywhere even with a Satnav. 

There are often roadworks or road closures somewhere in London, a Satnav may not help here, but London cab drivers always know the changes and closures to London streets.

How to get a Taxi to London from Heathrow?

Taking a taxi from Heathrow Airport is the most comfortable and probably more convenient than any other mode of transport of getting to London City center.

There are Taxi stops known in the UK as ranks outside every Heathrow Airport terminal where all London taxis park their vehicles and wait for passengers.

The journey from the airport to the city center takes around 30 minutes but can take longer depending on the level of traffic and other activities on the road.

How Much is a Taxi From Heathrow to Central London?

The fare passengers pay from Heathrow to London is based on the total journey distance. You pay what is on the taximeter. There is no set flat rate, and other additional charges may be added, particularly during the night and public holidays.

However, the journey time between 30 – 60 minutes from Heathrow to Central London may cost from £48 — £90.

London City Airport and Heathrow Taxi Cost

For anyone traveling between the two London airports to continue with your journey, the taxi provides the best option. It’s easy to move from London City Airport to Heathrow using a London taxi.

The cost of connecting between Heathrow and London city airport is not between £48 – £90 but may be higher depending on other factors.

Although taking a taxi from London City airport to Heathrow is expensive, it is the most convenient transfer option between the two airports.  

Also, people travel in comfort without worrying about the hassle of carrying their language on the bustling London Underground tube trains or using the buses.  

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