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2 July 2012
Not one of 22 major cities on the Continent provided a taxi service that could be described as very good
Break-neck speeds, ignoring traffic lights, U-turns to go to a cash machine, double the distance detours and having to share a cab with a female stranger are some of the taxi traumas to taint a traveller’s first impression of a European city.
Test rides by motoring clubs in 14 European countries, covering five routes per city, found that the skills and attitude of the cab drivers were the weakest link.
Not one of 22 major cities on the Continent provided a taxi service that could be described as very good.
Only six of the cities had drivers rated, at best, acceptable. Ten cities averaged poor for their drivers’ abilities and six very poor.
Taking ‘the long route’ and being charged for it is not as big a problem as tourists may fear. Nine of the cities rated very good for taxis sticking to the most direct route, 10 were good, one was acceptable and only Ljubljana in Slovenia was poor.
However, there were some spectacular exceptions. A trip to a landmark church in Hamburg followed a route that was three times longer than it should have been, partly because the driver insisted on going to the wrong church.
In Rome, the driver lost his way twice between the station and an exhibition centre before demanding €69 euros for a €50-euro route extended by two-thirds because of his incompetence.
In Madrid, a trip from the airport to the railway station covered more than twice the mileage it should have.
Quality of vehicle was better than one might expect – only in Zagreb and Ljubljana were taxis rated poor while Spanish ones in Barcelona and Madrid were particularly good.
However, one of the taxis in Rotterdam had 400,000 kilometres on the clock, broken windows, holes in the seats and other damage.
Despite most vehicles being of a good standard, the standard of driving and customer care was often appalling. Examples include:
Fortunately most taxi trips went OK but I would urge anyone to wear their seatbelts and stay alert especially to the meter
Edmund King, AA president
Edmund King AA President says: “Many people making city trips prefer taxis to the mystery of unfamiliar public transport. However the research showed a taxi journey can sometimes be just as daunting as public transport.
"Fortunately most taxi trips went OK but I would urge anyone to wear their seatbelts and stay alert especially to the meter. Don't get in a taxi if it looks unsafe - bald tyres are normally a tell tale sign".
The key to any successful city trip is doing the homework before you leave – check out the city’s transport system on line or have it with you on a mobile phone app.
Overall though, most taxi drivers know their city well and are usually proud of it, and may even know some short cuts to avoid traffic.
The survey group’s recommendations for uniform taxi standards were:
(2 July 2012)
The taxi survey was carried out by EuroTest, a pan-European consumer testing programme coordinated by 14 FIA-affiliated European motoring and touring clubs