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blackcab, uber, underground for 3 travellers in central London

Just a couple of questions regarding transport around Central London:
Three of us are going to be spending a week in London in mid September. Our first thought was Oyster card for each of us, but since we are all travelling together would it be better rate wise to just take a blackcab and/or Uber?

Or to ask it another way, when would it be best to use a blackcab or Uber vs the underground since we are all travelling together.
There might be days when we will be doing lots of walking - and maybe even use the underground for just one or two trips.

We have found in other cities, it's often less expensive to just take a taxi when there are 3 sharing. Is this true in London as well.
On days when we will be using the underground a lot more, then we will use it with an Oyster card.

Also, we have used Uber - in Europe, most recently in Rome and were very impressed. Just curious about it's use in London vs black cabs. How different are the rates point to point. (**also, with the potential of a strike this might also be something for us to consider)

Last, but maybe this question should have been first. Upon arrival in Hethrow to get into Central London should we opt for a blackcab, booking a car, uber or get the oyster card and use that. We all travel light.

Thanks for any suggestions and advice.

(Disclaimer: we are fine to use uber and have used it in many cities - and when there is a choice we actually prefer it over a taxi
but I realize every city is different. So if Uber is a viable option then we would consider it.) Otherwise, it would be black cab vs underground for 1 or 2 short trips in central London for 3 people travelleing together.

Thanks for any advice or suggestions

Posted by
5032 posts

A travel card for central London would be £32.40 each for 7 days unlimited travel on bus, underground, DLR and train in zones 1 & 2.

A 3 mile taxi journey would be around £10, but with a lot of waiting or travel at slow speed could easily clock up to £15. Do two of those a day and it will be £140-£210 for a week. Of course your journeys may deviate from this but the minimum fare is £2.40 for going hardly anywhere.

A minicab (including Uber) is whatever you agree with the driver or what they tell you.

(The cheapest taxi tariff is below:
For any hiring during Monday to Friday between 06:00 and 20:00, other than on a public holiday:
For the first 252.4 metres or 54.2 seconds (whichever is reached first) there is a minimum charge of £2.40
For each additional 126.2 metres or 27.1 seconds (whichever is reached first), or part thereof, if the fare is less than £17.40 then there is a charge of 20p
Once the fare is £17.40 or greater then there is a charge of 20p for each additional 88.5 metres or 19 seconds (whichever is reached first), or part thereof)

Posted by
169 posts

Ok, thanks for such a detailed reply.
Just to be clear, can you load the oyster card daily or do you have to do it for the week.
Also, Im guessing we could use the tube (and oyster card) to get from Hethrow to our hotel - rather than taking the express train or a taxi or private transport.

If the Oyster card can be loaded daily (just for Central London) on days that we might be walking - or perhaps using the tube 2 times then it might work to take a taxi on those days. Then use the oyster card on days where we need it for many rides.

Would that be correct?


Posted by
30291 posts

No strikes have been announced for September.

When Uber senses an opportunity to gouge the paying public it will - it raises its rates astronomically with no notice. If there is a strike or major demonstration or something else unusual it - like a snake sensing through tremors in the ground - will hit the passenger in the wallet. Uber drivers also rely on the uber app to direct them where to go. Horror stories abound. Stories of mystery charges appearing on passenger's credit cards also are not infrequent on social media.

Black cab drivers have The Knowledge. If anybody can get through, they can. May not want to go "South of the River". Even with bus lanes they still get stuck in traffic, and unlike buses and the Tube the meter keeps running. With 3 of you in a Black Cab somebody will be riding backwards.

One week Travelcards on an Oyster Card are an excellent value.

Don't rule out buses. While sometimes slow, they are everywhere and go everywhere and the views from the top deck are far superior than any other mode of transport. For short journeys they can be faster and cheaper than any other modes of travel.

Your choice.

Posted by
7553 posts

Get the Oyster Card. Use a Black Cab if you must use a taxi. Drivers take a test, an extremely difficult test to become Black Cab drivers. Best cab drivers in the world.

Forget Uber. They're untrained and without GPS couldn't find there way out of a car park in London or any other city.

And as you are asking for advice about London travel take a moment to visit a bookstore or Amazon and get Mr. Steve's guide. It's simplicity in providing worthwhile information for first time visitors can't be beat.

You might also see if you can find the revised edition of City Walks in London.

Posted by
30291 posts

An Oyster Card is simply a means of storing potential for fares - sort of like a specialised debit card.

When you buy it (one each) you can load it with however much Pay As You Go (PAYG) cash as you want, and as long as there is sufficient credit you can board any TfL (Transport for London) vehicle - bus, Underground, Overground train, tram, or certain mainline trains. You can put £20 on each one and ride the Underground to your hotel and three days later take a bus and the system will charge you the right amount. There are daily caps and weekly caps so once you reach the maximum you can effectively ride for the rest of the day for free. If you run short of credit you can top it up easily. If you have money left on the card when you go home you can get the funds back.

You can also load a Travelcard, a zone based pass, onto the card. It allows unlimited travel in the named zone(s) for the day. The best in your situation may be as suggested above a weekly Travelcard which allows 7 days' unlimited travel in the named zones, plus put on a small amount of PAYG on for the trip to and from the airport and if you need a trip outside the zones you bought - maybe to visit Wembley Stadium or Kew Gardens or the RAF Museum in Colindale.

Most people find that a Zones 1-2 pass is plenty.

Be advised that central London is a very big place - much bigger than Paris, or Rome. I walk in London a lot, but around an area not across the town. If you will be seeing many of the usual tourist places you will find walking everywhere not only hard work but slow enough to prevent you getting everywhere.

Posted by
8619 posts

sometimes though the Tube can be much more efficient for getting you where you need to go. Just something to keep in mind. When surface traffic is stalled, usually the Tube will keep tootling around, getting you around town (obviously it can have its problems too, but in general).

And often in London, you'd do better to walk than to go down into the Tube or get in a vehicle.

A combination would be the best option I would think. And I love the London buses!