The Five Peeve Taxi Journey

523am -porch light and two house lights are on -and the front door is open

I had booked a taxi for two minutes later (525am) to ride to Adelaide airport. At the afore mentioned hour of 523, my taxi arrived and tooted his horn. Peeve #1: In a quiet suburban street, when I am clearly ready for the taxi, I find tooting the horn excessive, unnecessary and rude.

Now, confession, I used to be a taxi driver and drove 300 000 kilometres (180 000 miles) in taxis through many Melbourne nights to fund a University degree. I still know a few taxi driver tricks. I also knew how to give good taxi service.

I walked out to the taxi with my bag. The driver popped the boot (trunk) and hopped out. “Good Morning” I said. He didn't say anything. “how are you doing?” I continued. More silence. Peeve #2a Uncommunicative taxi drivers (Peeve #2b Opinionated or racist ones that never shut up-there is a happy medium)

He reached for the boot (trunk) to lift it. Unfortunately he fumbled, and slammed it shut which means he had to go back to the driver's seat to open it.

Relax" I said "small bag. I will put it on the back seat". He didn't say anything. He just sat down and closed his door.

I hopped around to the front seat (Australian men generally sit up front with the taxi driver).

You are late” he said pointing to the clock that said 527am. These were his first words to me.
What two minutes?”. He shrugged. “Its almost the end of my shift. I have to change over.”
That isn't actually my fault”. I said. “wheres your change over?”. He named a suburb that lay between my origin point and the  airport. “great" I said, "you will do that easily. 15 minutes to the airport, ten minutes back. Changeover 6am?"
No” he said: “530 Changeover"  I looked at him: “you took a job for 525am knowing you had changeover at 530 which you would never make and you have the gall to tell me off".  Peeve #3

The best taxis I have encountered are in Singapore. Sparkling clean, staffed by friendly drivers, I have never ever had a hassle with them. When you ring for a taxi, they give you the taxi registration number so you know immediately that you have the right cab. They also have a Common Taxi Number (6-DIAL-CAB): "One ring to call them all" which will link you to the first company with empty cabs! You can even book a Singapore taxi by SMS!! The taxis have clever lighted signs on top of them that clearly say they are occupied or free. Unlike many countries which have lights on top of the taxi. In some cities a lit up sign means the cab is free. In others it means it is occupied!

One very late night, I landed in Manchester, New Hampshire, USA, to find no cabs at the taxi rank. To get one, you had to go to a mysterious little room in the middle of the airport and ask them to call a taxi. I did this and went out and waited. Oh joy, a taxi glided into the airport to drop a passenger off.  I approached the taxi. The driver looked at me and drove off. I went back to the mysterious little room to complain and was told that only one taxi company is allowed to pick up at Manchester airport! No other taxi company is allowed to pick passengers up, only drop them off. I hate these exclusive agreements which seem uncompetitive to me but in his case it was ridiculous. For when my taxi finally arrived after a 1 hour 49 minute wait in the cold, I found out the company only had one taxi on duty that night. How is this customer friendly?

 Needless to say on this early morning taxi ride, we sped to the airport, sitting 10-20km/h over the speed limit. Peeve #4.The two most terrifying taxi rides of my life involve speed.

One was in Bangkok, Thailand when the driver tailgated cars on the airport freeway at 140km/h (84mph). I was so terrified that I texted my farewells to family and friends from my seatbeltless seat. I am looking forward to the Bangkok airport train there- when they finally open it.

The other was in Delhi, India where I discovered size matters-the bigger your car and the louder your horn, the greater the likelihood was of being given priority. We flew down the wrong side of the road, zipping back onto the correct side seconds before other cars plowed into us. Often we would end up on the "correct" side of the road to find a car overtaking from the other side. I recently learnt that "India overtook China to top the world in road fatalities in 2006 and has continued to pull steadily ahead, despite a heavily agrarian population, fewer people than China and far fewer cars than many Western countries" (Times of India).  118 000 people died on Indian roads in 2008- 14 people every hour. Having learnt that, I now take the train, bus and subway everywhere in India! Seriously.

 Well, my customer unfriendly driver reached Adelaide airport at 540am and asked for his fare. I handed him my Credit Card which he processed. As I got out of the taxi, I asked for my card back. "I gave it to you" As politely as I could I said: "No I don't seem to have it".  He said: "well you have got it". "Are you sure?", I said, "?" He looked down at the machine: "oh here it is". Peeve # 5 . Needless to say he got no tip (NB its not a requirement to tip in are generally only given for good service ).  I must admit I only said "goodbye". not "thank you".

In a poll compiled by, London taxis were considered the best (and most expensive) in the world, New York and Parisian taxi drivers the rudest. My peeve with the survey is that it was only conducted with travellers from the UK, Ireland, France, Spain, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Hardly a global sample.

My  Seven Point Manifesto for good taxis:
  1. Pay the drivers decently (I would give taxis exemptions for all fuel and road taxes)
  2. Train the drivers well (London, England does this)
  3. Expect drivers to be friendly (Brisbane, Hobart and Perth Australia, this is always the case) 
  4.  Focus on customer service (Singapore)
  5. Ensure clean cars (Most of Switzerland)
  6. Ensure there is good availability (New York City) 
  7. Allow payment by Cash and Credit Card with no outrageous fees (Singapore) 

Any transport regulator that can achieve this, gets my vote

Whats your taxi story?
(check out my blogs on the Best airlines and Worst airlines I have flown).
14 Responses
  1. Steve_J_23 Says:

    1. Taxi ride from hell: New York City. Had nothing to do with the taxi driver or the state of the taxi, and everything to do with Manhattan traffic. If you want to move to the left lane, you just flick your indicator on and steer 45 degrees across the traffic, and everyone gets out of your way. Lane markings? Serving suggestion only. White knuckle ride all the way, truly terrifying.

  2. Steve_J_23 Says:

    2. BEST TAXI RIDE EVER: Washington DC. It was way back then a flat $5.50 to go anywhere in the DC area. I hailed the taxi in a back street in a seedy neighbourhood (dumb idea!) and hopped in. The taxi driver explained the system, and said that I could either go straight to the hotel, or accompany him on a few jobs as he drove around DC. I chose the 2nd option.

    I got taken on a free tour of the city, got to see neighbourhoods no one else does. Introduced to several locals I shared a cab with, had the best bars pointed out to me, had a great time. Needless to say he became my regular taxi driver for my time in DC! :-D

  3. Here give a nice post.I once met a taxi is the best in Singapore. Clean and bright, equipped with driver-friendly, I've never had trouble with them. When you ring the taxi, they give you the vehicle registration number, so you immediately know that you have the right cab.

    taxis in tooting

  4. aartackerman Says:
    This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. bibershally Says:

    looking to enjoy the city, visiting the most emblematic and historical places.
    ultimate place baba.. Singapore..

    But if you are visiting Australia just contact the safest taxi unit.. Taxi to Airport

  6. Sabra Divis Says:

    I share the same experience with Barclay. They're sooo friendly and very efficient at their work! The taxi driver that I had was very thrilled to share his piece of knowledge about those certain places that we passed by. He was very entertaining!

    Sabra Divis

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  9. Roshan RK Says:

    118 000 people died on Indian roads in 2008- 14 people every hour. Having learnt that, I now take the train, bus and subway everywhere in India! Seriously.but not by taxi service in nagpur .

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