London cabs win hands down

London Black CabI was in London last week and often ended up taking a black cab. The cabs are expensive – more expensive than the Tube (London’s subway, which in itself is �3!), and about 30-40% more expensive than a NYC cab, but that’s about the only downside.

Compared to New York City taxi cabs, these black cabs are better in every single way.

  • The cab drivers actually know where they are going. You tell them once what the address is and that’s it. In New York, if your address is not on the grid (x street, between y and z avenue), there is a huge possibility your driver won’t know where it is. Isn’t knowing the city part of the job??
  • You never need to repeat yourself. Ever. They didn’t once say “Er, did you say 37th street and Broadway?”. I told them once what the address was and the next time I spoke to them was when I got off. Amazing. NYC cab drivers apparently can’t remember an address for longer than 3 minutes.
  • They never talk on the phone and if they do, it is very quiet and very quick. Off all the cab drives only one driver got on his cell phone. And I could barely hear him over the engine noise and he was off the phone in about 20 seconds. They take their jobs seriously – like jobs. Not like vacations where they are doing you a favor by driving you while they talk. In NYC, almost 90% of my cab rides involve the driver being on his cell phone. And loudly. I’ve been privy to everything from lunch menus to home repairs. Ridiculous. And rude.
  • They are polite. They say please and thank you and have a good evening. Considering London cabs are so expensive, apparently it is the norm to just round up. So, after the first couple of days of tipping 20%, I adjusted to London norms and for a cab ride that was �7.60, I gave the guy �8 and felt cheap doing so. He was still gracious and polite.
  • The taxis are clean. They are comfortable and spotless. No grime, no left over tissues, nothing. In NYC, you feel like taking a shower after riding in some cabs. Some of them stink. Of course this could be a reflection on the taxi riding public in both cities too!
  • The taxi configuration is so much better. London cabs are spacious on the inside. And they seat 6! In New York, if your driver is tall and has pushed his seat back, forget it, you are going to be scrunched in with no leg room. And the maximum NYC passenger limit is 4.
  • Finally, London cabs have evolved from boring black and come in multiple colors including hot pink. NYC cabs are only yellow.

Apparently, the London cab drivers need to attend a two year plus training course called The Knowledge to learn the streets of London perfectly and in order to be allowed to become a cab driver. With another fare increase coming to NYC cabs, maybe passengers need to get something for the extra money. The list above seems like a good starting point!