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The best and worst of taxis around the world

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The best and worst of taxis around the world

Post by Admin on Tue 2 Jun 2009 - 18:20

May 28th, 2009
The best and worst of taxis around the world

Posted by: Nick Vinocur
Tags: UK News, Barcelona, berlin, cab, cabbies, cape town, drivers, las vegas, london, moscow, paris, rio de janeiro, santiago de chile, shanghai, survey, sydney, taxi, transportation

Live in a big city, ride public transportation every day, and chances are that you pay very close attention to your experience when riding in a taxi cab.

From grumpy drivers to fanciful detours, taking a taxi through the congested heart of a major city can easily become the most irritating — and costly — part of your day.

Still, when it comes to taxi-friendliness, not all cities are created equal, and not all stereotypes about road safety and customer awareness are borne out in reality.

A recent survey of cab users shows that people still judge London cabbies to be the best in the world, but rate Parisian chauffeurs — commonly excoriated for their rudeness — above their counterparts in Berlin, Sydney and Las Vegas.

New York scored second best in the survey, held back in part by safety concerns. Third place went to Madrid, followed by Paris and Barcelona.

Languishing at other end of the list were Rio de Janeiro, Moscow, Cape Town, Shanghai, and Santiago de Chile.

What people liked and disliked varied widely by city. In London, users valued the roominess of black cabs but not their price; in Berlin they liked the sturdiness of the driving; in Dublin they enjoyed smiling drivers; and in Bangkok and Hong Kong, they warmed to the low cost of getting around.

As a user of taxis in some of these cities, I can add that London cabbies, in addition to knowing their stuff, tend to show more than the usual amount of interest in customers’ well-being.

When I was dropped off upon arriving in London last year, the cabbie took care to warn me about the dangers of my new neighbourhood: “Watch yourself around here,” he said. “People may try to take advantage of you, on account of the accent.” (U.S.)

In Paris, where taxi drivers tend to see themselves more as independent businessmen than jobbers, in-journey conversation alone can be worth the fare. Ask politely, and a driver may well give you an informed run-down of the major political, economic and sports news of the day. Passable French is a requirement, though, as most Parisian cab drivers — however worldly — will not exhaust themselves trying to speak your language.

New York cabs are full of surprises – some good, others nearly fatal. Speak through the plexiglass barrier in front of your seat and you may find that you are sitting behind a doctor in mathematics, the principal of a small religious school, or a high stakes poker player down on his luck (I’ve met all three).

Just as common, however, is the aggressive driver whose wrenching turns, knee-jerk honking, and rally-racing approach will leave you exiting the vehicle with bruised ribs.

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