Top five cities for taxi drivers (and the bottom end, too)

When you step into a cab, you never know what you’re going to find. The driver could be knowledgeable, helpful, pleasant and safe. Or, he could lead you into a fender-bender in minutes. It’s a real roll of the dice, of course, though some cities’ cabbies are certainly better than others – at least that’s what found.

In a study of world’s taxi drivers, found that London’s are tops. But, you get what you pay for: London‘s taxis were also the most expensive. New York came in second, with 27 percent of the vote (compared to London’s overwhelming 59 percent). New York’s drivers ticked up 10 percentage points, but this still wasn’t enough to break the tie it scored with Paris for having the rudest cabbies. Rome picked up the dubious distinction of having the worst drivers.

Tokyo (26 percent), Berlin (17 percent) and Bangkok (14 percent) round out the world’s top five.

Madrid took sixth, followed by Copenhagen, Dublin, Frankfurt and Paris. So, Denmark may be happier, but Spain has better cab drivers.

Of course, there’s always one you should look out for …

[photo by Ben Fredericson via Flickr]

Cabbie drives 1,600 miles — customer refuses to pay

Life as a cabbie is no walk in the park. They deal with drunk passengers, being robbed, and often spend part of their shift cleaning up puke in the backseat of their “office”.

The worst customers are probably those that take the cabbie for a ride. These thieves take advantage of taxi cab services, and run off without paying, when they reach their destination.

South Florida cab passenger Lucilo Perez (pictured here on the right) took things to the next level. Perez convinced cabbie Lelis Almeira to drive from Miami to Western Tennessee, without the means or intention of paying.

This is a 20 hour / 1,600 mile drive, and the cabbie had to pay for his own gas and food using his credit card.

When he arrived in Tennessee, the lady Perez was traveling to meet, said there was no way she’d pay for the cab. Apparently, Perez was under the impression that his lady friend would cough up the $3000 cab fare.

Memphis police arrested Perez, and he’ll now need to find the cash to pay his cab driver. Meanwhile, the cab driver has lost all faith in humanity. Though I do feel sorry for him, the tough lesson here is to get a guarantee that you’ll be paid – especially on a 1,600 mile journey.


Family leaves child in the back of a cab

First some poor kid was left sleeping on a park bench when his family drove off without him in their motor home. Now another sleeping kid has gotten left behind, this time in a cab that her family had taken from the airport to their house in Boston. When they got inside, they realized the five-year old child wasn’t with them, and called the police.

The police were able to locate the cab driver, who had no idea he was carrying extra cargo. He returned the child to her parents and received a $50 tip. Then he found out he might face suspension of his license for failing to thoroughly check the backseat. The driver appealed and on Tuesday, according to the Boston Herald, police dropped the suspension with a warning for the cabbie to check his car more carefully next time.

Just another reason to make sure you keep tabs on your belongings at all times when traveling. . . especially if those “belongings” are your children.

London Black Cabs voted best in the world – Parisian cabbies the rudest

A European survey of 1400 tourists has revealed where you can find the best taxi cab service.

33% of the votes went to London, followed by New York (17%) and Berlin (6%).

London cabs were also given high marks for friendliness and knowledge of the routes. They do lose marks for being exceptionally expensive.

New York came second in almost every category, except safety. In fact, New York cabbies were voted “worst drivers”, though they make up for it with their knowledge of the city.

Taxi drivers in Paris were voted the most unfriendly, and rightfully so in my opinion.

In all the times I visited Paris, I never came across a single cab driver who seemed to posses the will to live, let alone the ability to provide friendly and reliable service to the millions of tourists visiting their country. Paris also takes the top place in worst taxi availability.

Beijing Cabbies Not Allowed to Dye Hair Red

Yesterday I posted about tickets going on sale for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Understandably, China wants to make a good impression on the hordes of international travelers who will descend upon their country. In an effort to control that impression, the government has made a 12-item self-improvement list for cabdrivers.

So, if you travel to Beijing for the games, you can be sure your cabdrivers won’t smoke, spit or overcharge. Women won’t wear big earrings or have red hair, and men’s hair will be kept short. They’ll also always use their meter, or they’ll run the risk of losing their license.

On the one hand, I feel sorry for cabbies who are having their appearance micro-managed by the Chinese government, but on the other, taking a taxi in a country you’re not familiar with — especially when your language isn’t commonly spoken — can be daunting. Travelers who are confident they can make their way around the city — without being taken for the proverbial ride — are far more likely to enjoy their stay.

That being said, what does the government have against red hair?