Monday, October 25, 2010

A Decidedly English Taxi Driver

As we do not own a car here in England, a recent illness has occasioned more frequent taxi-riding by my husband and myself.

I have been generally pleased with taxis here.  Though somewhat exorbitantly priced (6 pounds to go about a mile and a half in normal traffic), London taxis are what rushed people's dreams are made of.

First, the cabs themselves have many perks. They have sound-proofing for passenger privacy, passenger-controlled air ventilation and light fixtures, five seats, and mirrors for passenger vanity moments.  They are always plentiful (perhaps because of the expense), and are of a standard make for easy detection.

The drivers, however, are by far the best part of a taxi-riding experience.  They know every street in London.  This is mandated by a qualifying test - you can often see would-be taxi drivers on mopeds zooming around the city, map on clipboard ready, learning streets and short-cuts.   I've never had a driver not be able to speak English or know where I was going.  I also have never been ripped off - they almost always figure out a shortcut so you get to your destination faster and at less cost.  Finally, they are fair and polite.  Even if you tip them 20 pence, they always say thank you - I have even had a driver return a tip when he thought I had been upset by his driving.

Speaking of service, Saturday night, my husband and I encountered a taxi driver dressed in a full suit and tie.  I enquired why.  The driver said that he was providing a service, and thought all taxi cab drivers should follow suit...

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