London’s Underground rail system is one of the most efficient ways to get about the city and with 1.3 billion passengers a year, it is also one of the world’s busiest public transport systems.
Chuck into the mix more than 8,000 scheduled public buses operating on over 700 different routes and greater uptake of cycling in light of London’s 2012 Olympics, and it’s hard to see where good ol’ private hire taxis fit in.
There are currently around 21,000 licensed black cabs on London’s roads, not to mention the 25,000-plus Uber drivers also operating in the capital, so you’d be really unlucky if you struggled to grab a taxi at most times of the day.
Additionally, if you’re staying at the Grand Royale London Hyde Park Hotel, you shouldn’t have any trouble grabbing a black cab or getting an Uber to your front door at any time, thanks to its central and well-connected location.
We’re not insinuating that you are risking your life by taking public transport or that you’re 100 per cent safe in a taxi but if you take a licensed black cab, then naturally, you have your own private space, shut away from the rest of London.
Any unbooked minicabs are illegal and if you are approached by any drivers seeking passengers, politely decline; it will almost certainly not end well.
Only get in any black cab that you have expressly hailed down on the street. Similarly, only take a minicab that you have personally booked.
They can be good value
We touched on this earlier, but if you take a taxi at certain times of the day over a few miles then they can be quicker and not much more expensive than using the Tube.
There are caveats though. It would have to be outside of rush hours, so don’t use black cabs between 7 and 9.30am or 4 and 7pm. The roads will be congested and you’ll end up paying just to sit in traffic and get frustrated.
They’re always available
Public transport generally shuts down in the wee small hours. A small number of bus services run around the clock and the Night Tube was recently launched on certain lines, but they don’t come close to the 24/7 availability offered by taxis.
You can guarantee whatever time of the day it is, you can get hold of a cab, even during the festive holidays, although you can expect to pay extra for the privilege on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve.
Following on from their round-the-clock availability, taxis boast a flexibility that buses and Tube trains can’t compete with, due to taxis’ natural ability to take you closer to your destination. All black cabs accept credit and debit cards too, without any surcharge, and they’re legally obliged to take on any job for journeys up to 12 miles.
London’s infamous black cabs are as iconic as New York’s yellow taxis so here’s your chance to ride in a slice of history.
You can’t get lost
All cabbies operating in London will have ‘the knowledge’. This basically means they will know how to get you to any street in London off the top of their head and will have passed an exam demonstrating their knowledge.
As a result, you can climb into any black cab safe in the knowledge that they will be able to get you anywhere in the capital; essentially, you’re lost-proof.