|| Local Transport
Taxis and Ridesharing
last updated July 8, 2012
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 a large number 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".
Taxis queued at a taxi stand in Munich
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. Many public transit vehicles and stations also have taxi phones. Taxi
phones also often have an emergency call function as well, so make
sure you push the correct button if applicable.
You can also order a taxi using your own phone. Every city has a taxi hotline-- search for "Taxi-Zentrale" and the name of your city. In larger
hotels, the concierge or front desk staff can also arrange a
taxi for you.
Most cities now also offer online ordering
of taxis through the web or mobile apps, with the "FREENOW" app being the most widespread.
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 obviously excessively intoxicated, dirty, sick, carrying a
weapon, traveling with an aggressive dog, or is appears unable
to pay (many of those being obviously subjective.)
you don't speak German and the driver does not speak English (which is
a bit rare nowadays), 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
All taxis in Germany are required to have a visible meter
and fares are regulated by local laws within a designated local
tariff zone (Pflichtfahrgebiet). Rates vary by
city, but generally there is a €3-5 "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 (Wartezeit, which includes waiting in
traffic and at red lights) is also charged at a typical rate of around
€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 times.
Some cities have reduced fares 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.
in Germany are almost always quite clean and well-maintained, and
drivers are professional, courteous, honest, and knowledgeable. If
you ever experience bad service, note the vehicle's number located near
the meter and/or in the rear window (it might be a bit difficult to see
through tinted windows) and report the experience to the local Taxi-Zentrale.
tip the driver for a quick basic trip, you can round the fare up to the
nearest Euro or two, or for longer trips or if the driver provided
special or exceptional service, it's customary to tip 5% to 10% of the
its popularity in many other countries, ridesharing is very
limited in Germany. This is a result of Germany's transportation
regulations and successful legal challenges from the taxi industry.
Uber, for example-- despite being a German word-- has a very limited footprint in
Germany, operating bare-bones service in just eight cities. And where
they do operate, the pricing is often the same or sometimes even more
than for a taxi.
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