|| Local Transport
There are over 50,000
taxis in Germany and using them is much the same as in most
other locales. German taxis are cream-colored with a black
and yellow taxi sign on the roof. In the birthplace of the
luxury sedan, it should be no surprise that the bulk of the taxi
fleet is comprised of sleek and plush Mercedes and Audis.
For larger parties or payloads, you'll find equally comfortable
minivans and station wagons.
As with many aspects of
German life, the taxi industry is heavily regulated, so
foreigners need not worry about "being taken for a ride".
Hiring a taxi
The best way to hire a taxi is to find one at a taxi
stand. You will find these at major activity centers such
as train stations, airports, large hotels, shopping areas,
etc. Usually you will find several taxis waiting at these
locations. Generally, you should hire the first taxi in
the line, but you can pick any of them waiting at the stand,
especially if you need a larger vehicle than the first
one. If there are no taxis waiting, see if there is a
"taxi phone" (Taxirufsäule) nearby. These call
boxes will connect you to the central taxi dispatch office,
which will then send a cab to your location. These taxi
phones also often have an emergency call function as well-- make
sure you push the correct button if applicable.
You can also order a taxi
by phone. Every city has a taxi hotline-- look in the
phone book under "Taxi-Zentrale". In larger
hotels, the concierge or front desk staff can also arrange a
taxi for you. Many cities now also offer online ordering
of taxis. Theoretically, you can hail a cab on the street,
but most of the time one of the previously mentioned options
will be more reliable.
By law, taxi drivers
cannot refuse to accept a customer for travel within the
municipality or official local taxi tariff zone unless the
customer is excessively intoxicated, dirty, or sick, carrying a
weapon, traveling with an aggressive dog, or is obviously unable
If you don't speak
German, the best way to tell the driver where to take you is to
write the address on a slip of paper and hand it to the driver
when you get in. You can read the fare on the meter when
it's time to pay.
All taxis in Germany are required to have a visible meter
and fares are regulated by local laws within a designated local
tariff zone (Pflichtfahrgebietes). Rates vary by
city, but generally there is a €2-3 "drop charge" or basic fee (Grundpreis),
then a rate of €1-3 per kilometer with slightly lower rates for
longer distances (typically in excess of 2 to 5
kilometers). Time spent waiting (which includes waiting in
traffic) is also charged at a typical rate of anywhere from
€0.10-0.50 per minute, with some cities allowing for a minute or
two of idling free of charge and some with higher fees for
longer waiting time. Some cities have lower fares (or even
free) if you're making a round-trip. Fares may also vary
by time of day and/or day of the week.
For trips over 50 km, you
must negotiate the fare in advance. International trips
are permissible. The tax rate of 7% for trips of less than
50 km and 19% for longer trips is included in the fare, but must
also be itemized separately on the meter and receipt.
Unless you specify the
route, the driver is required to chose the shortest route.
In addition to the fare,
taxi drivers are also permitted to charge an additional service
fee for special services including nighttime (typically defined
as 10pm to 6am) and Sunday or holiday service; transporting of
baggage, animals, or of wheelchair-bound persons; courier
service; and use of credit cards. Minivan and station
wagon taxis also typically add a surcharge.
Taxi drivers are generally very friendly, helpful, honest,
and knowledgeable about their city. If you ever experience
bad service, note the vehicle's number located near the meter
and/or in the rear window and report the experience to the
To tip the driver, round
the fare up to the nearest Euro. For longer trips or if
you receive extra or exceptional service, it's customary to tip
5% to 10% of the fare.
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