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London cabs: Black cabs and mini-cabs

On the London transport website there is a warning about using unlicensed mini-cabs. It says they are not allowed to stop and pick up people who hail them on the street ( only licensed black cabs can do that) but sometimes they do anyway.

How do we make sure the cab we hail is a licensed black cab? Apparently they can be covered by ads so not recognizable by the black color anymore. We will be four women traveling together and want to get it right.

Posted by
9110 posts

Black cabs can be any color and are bulky looking. They don't look like something you'd want to buy. They're in the taxi ranks all over the place. They have meters.

Mini-cabs can be legal or illegal. They look like something bought out of a dealership. Legal ones have the yellow disc with a blue/white diamond on both the front and rear windows. Neither have meters (suspicion only for the illegals since I've never been in one). Ranks for the legal one are outside their offices. You can book them inside or by phone, etc. I've never seen one stop for a street hail. They can be cheaper, but you have to agree on the price at booking. Hotels can order them up from a reputable outfit.

It's hard to be far from a black cab rank anywhere near an attraction or major station.

Posted by
3201 posts

OK, thanks. So if it has the lighted "Taxi" sign on the roof it is definitely a black cab and OK to hail?

Posted by
3392 posts

Another option for getting around are the "Green Tomato" cars. They were recommended to us by a Londoner who lives there and uses them all the time. It's like Uber, which is also in London, but not as expensive. You can download the free app on your smartphone and use it to call a car wherever you are. You type in where you are and where you want to go and a car comes within minutes to get you. Your credit card is charged at the end of the ride. Super easy - no cash needed. We used it in London several times this summer and it was great! Cheaper than the black cabs. Whether they are legal or not, I have no idea, but it worked for us!

Posted by
5380 posts

"Green Tomato" are one of the many minicab firms, albeit fairly large, in competition with the likes of Addison Lee.