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Budapest Illegal Taxi Warning

Heed the advice in the book - Taxis you hail off the street may not be legitimate - and must have a “button”to increase your fare or have a fake meter that starts out correct but quickly accelerates the fare.

The first one we thought may have been normal as the chain bridge was closed due to the Red Bull air race and had to make a slightly more circuitous route, but we knew we were being had when a short ride about 10blocks was suddenly 4000 forint.

The worst was the fake taxi driver who started showing women that he could procure for us on his mobile phone while driving.... fake taxis trafficking women, good job Budapest getting rid of Uber.... and not properly policing fake taxis, what politician and police is being paid off?

Posted by
17801 posts

I doubt anyone is being paid off and in 100 taxis over 15 years I have never been a victim of this. About 6 years ago the government did institute heavy regulation that eliminated the vast majority of issues. If you are visiting Budapest it's always preferable to call for a taxi.
Hailing them on the street is just not the custom.

My preference is City Taxi.

All licensed cabs will be yellow and have the company name on the side. Anything else is at your own risk.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks for sharing the taxi link.

Really do want to reinforce my warning. Talked to hotel staff, they were embarrassed and made it seem that this is a known problem.

All three who scammed us were yellow, looked like real taxis, but with the meters in a place the driver could manipulate. We were a group of four men, two Austrians and two Americans. One is a flight attendant - we are well travelled. The usual scam is in change - not manipulating fares. They probably would have tried that On me too but I always say the amount I am handing the driver.

Like I said we fell for it for the first two times because we didn’t know the distances but after the third driver offered us “whores” and showed us photos of young women, and then the fare was 3900 forint for ten blocks we read our guide book properly and spoke to the hotel.

It would be easy for police to catch this behavior. I understand why Uber was said to be removed from the country but Uber does do one thing well - really eliminate illegal taxi behavior. Wanted to post this in the hopes someone in the country reads this and considers some action.

Thanks - Eric

Posted by
2602 posts

I followed James' sterling advice on my first trip to Budapest and the only taxi company I will use is City Taxi, got their number in my contacts. Fo Taxi from the airport is good, too--I am familiar now with Budapest's geography and know that I have never been taken on a circuitous or false route by either company---always point A as directly as possible to point B.

Posted by
105 posts

Have a friend that used to work in Budapest. When I came to visit, the first advice she gave me was - always order a taxi. Never just get in one, it's a big racket.

Posted by
17801 posts

Yea, not sure its a "Big Racket", but not at all surprised that it happens to some degree. The world is full of crooks. I have a small business that accommodates tourists in Budapest and have yet to meet someone that has been victim. But if its gotten as bad as suggested, then maybe its time to complain. At least taxis are relatively cheap in Budapest. Even the crooks. That 4000 forint fare was a bit less than $15

Posted by
649 posts

James E has wealth of knowledge about Budapest. Thank you for all your advice. As to Taxi's we did order one from our hotel to the Legenda Boat Cruise in the evening. Only 1500 Forint. We were of the impression that the cruise people would call us a taxi at the end but they did not. We approached the taxi's that were waiting in front on the dock and 2 of them wanted 3500-4000 forints. I said "we only paid 1500 to get here" how come so much. No answer. If you do this cruise I would talk to the driver that takes you there to arrange to pick you up.
Thoroughly ticked off at 11PM at night I said to my husband it can not be that far to walk. Stopped one gentleman to ask directions(I knew approx. where we were) and voila we hoofed it back to the Opera area in less than 15 minutes.

Posted by
17801 posts

Shelley, I guess they are lining up to prey in the tourist center. That's a shame. I post the phone number for City Taxi (there are other good ones too) so people will know just to call one. They arrive in minutes in most instances. Hailing taxi's just isn't the norm in that part of the world so to see taxi's just sitting there waiting is sort of suspicious.

But, you did better anyway. The walk from the docks to the Opera, even at 11pm, is interesting. You got to see a whole different light on the city. Not bad, huh?

Posted by
27028 posts

I'm not a frequent user of taxis but occasionaly need one when traveling to or from a bus or train station. Places like that seem to attract dishonest taxi drivers just about everywhere. Late at night at the dock of a sightseejng boat--yeah, the odds of getting an honest fare don't sound good to me.

Posted by
17801 posts

My Budapest Taxi Experineces

We were traveling from Buda to our home in Pest on one occasion. We crossed the Elizabeth bridge and the car was rear ended. The driver pulled to the side and before doing anything else called for another cab for us. Within minutes the new cab arrived and i paid the meter on the first cab. Then off we went. When we got home i looked at the meter and paid the gentleman the exact fee ... i confess ... i was a bit bothered by the inconvenience. The drive handed me back 450 ft. Why I asked? He said the start fee was 450 ft and it wasn't right for me to have to pay that on the first cab and now on his meter too. Stunned I doubled it and gave it back as a tip.

On another occasion i had decided to do some shopping in Buda and thought when the time got close to a dentist appointment i had, i would just call City Taxi to come pick me up and take me to the dentist. When the time came i made the phone call, but couldn't for the life of me begin to pronounce the street name i was standing on. After a few failed attempts i told the dispatcher that i would find someone to translate and call back. He insisted that i not give up and within a few minutes we had it figured out and the taxi came.

On yet another occasion; again involving my dentist, i called for a taxi at the dentist office and told him where our home was. He had a creative way of getting back to my home. After about 10 minutes he pulled to the curb and pointed at a building. Oh G-d, he had misunderstood my lousy Hungarian pronunciation and taken me to a street with a similar name as mine. So I repeated the right street name, this time he got it. Before i could say a word he cleared the meter and started it over. He didn't have to do that. Bad Hungarian is my problem, not his.

Then last year I had to call a taxi from a hospital in Buda (inner ear issues).... No, lets back up, cause this is good. I went to an Audiologist in Pest to get fitted for hearing aids. They performed a lot of tests and told me the pressure in one ear was too high and they didn't want to fit a hearing aid that might not work properly when the ear had stabilized. I thanked and asked the charge. No charge. They couldn't help me so the tests and exam were free (try and find that in the US). Then the doctor informed me that there was a taxi on the way to take me to a hospital in Buda where a doctor was waiting to examine my ear. Really? They called around for me and found someone who could see me? Wow! The doctor had a ski trip to Switzerland planned but had waited to see me before leaving town. She determined some cause and gave me some drops (that worked). Cost? No charge. She was off the clock anyway and the drops were samples....

Okay, now, I had to call a taxi from a hospital in Buda .... Once again I couldn't pronounce anything. So i walked to the guard at the hospital gate and asked him to talk to the dispatcher. Problem was the guard didn't speak English either. So i found a grounds man who translated to the guard who translated to the dispatcher. A hoot. Wouldn't trade a moment of any of it.

Finally, every trip back to the states starts with a 4am taxi. I call the night before and that taxi is always there waiting for me about 15 minutes early.