Traveling in a taxi in India is always a nightmare and the situation has improved only a little during these years. Even though the government has a strict law that says every taxi should have a meter in working condition, not everyone is following it. Bargaining the fare with taxi drivers is difficult even for the local people in India. So tourists should avoid the bargaining process as much as possible.
1. Pick up from Airport/Railway station
Many hotels provide complimentary shuttle service for picking up their customers from Airport or Railway Station. If possible, you can utilize this facility. Otherwise, go to the prepaid taxi counter at the airport or station. Almost all the airports and major railway stations in India have this facility available. Visit the taxi counter and pay there for your desired destination so that you can board the taxi straight away without any deal with the taxi driver.
2. Booking through the hotel
Most hotels have a tie-up with local travel agencies so that they can arrange tour packages or taxi services. If your hotel has this facility, you can avail that as it will be reliable and safe. Usually, they will have hourly rates. Otherwise, you can directly call the popular taxis in India like Fast track, Friends track, India track, etc. Or else you can get the contact numbers of local travel agencies from the hotel people and fix the package directly.
3. Never give tips
Giving tips for taxis is mandatory in some countries like the US. But in India, the tip is not mandatory. You can give a tip if you are extremely pleased with your traveling experience and wish to compliment the driver. Otherwise, you need not give a tip.
4. Check taxi meter
After boarding the taxi, check if the meter is properly working. If it is not working, stop the driver and come to a conclusion of the fare before proceeding further. If it is running too fast, inform the driver about that and fix the fare before traveling further. The usually saying is that the taxi drivers alter the meters in such a way so that it will get heated soon and the meter will run very fast resulting in the increased fare.
5. Pretend to be knowledgeable
Don’t show to the driver that you are completely new to the place and do not know anything. Get a fair knowledge of the places you want to visit and the approximate time it will take to reach the place. Otherwise, the driver will take long routes to the place and the fare will be high. You can keep the map of the city for reference.
6. Bargaining the fare
Before starting, find out the approximate fare for the place either from the local person or the hotel where you stay. You can also check out http://www.taxiautofare.com. Here choose the city and fill in the starting place and destination. It will show the total distance in kilometers, approximate travel time, and fare. With this, you can identify whether the fare told by the driver is correct or not.
You don’t have any of the above information? No worries. Mostly the drivers will tell a fare that is always 30-50% higher than the correct one. So you can bargain accordingly. If the driver does not accept your fare, leave that and go for another taxi.
You can walk a little while from the taxi stand and catch a taxi on the run by waving your hand. It will be cheaper than the ones on the stand.
7. Waiting time charges
Most people get ripped off by the drivers at this point. Usually, if the waiting time is less than 30 minutes, they won’t charge. So discuss the waiting time charges with the driver prior to the travel. If it is a metered taxi, charges for waiting time is calculated automatically.
8. Keep denominations for money
Keep all the denominations for Indian Rupee like Rs.5,10,20,50 etc as much as possible. Because you can hear the statement “There is no change” from almost every taxi driver. For example, if the fare is Rs.120 and you give Rs.200, they may give the balance Rs.50 to 70 saying they don’t have any change.
9. Avoid travel during early morning & late night
It is not advisable to travel during the early morning or late night in taxis. It is not only for safety purposes but also for cost. Usually, the drivers will charge more amount during this period saying they won’t get any passenger for their return travel.
Safety Tips for Tourists in India
Keep the below points in mind for safer travel:
– Avoid wearing too much jewelry and taking heavy cash.
– If you are traveling during night time, please make sure that the driver is not drunken.
– Don’t talk about any important matters like your bank, credit card, savings, phone number inside the taxi.
– If not needed, keep your passport in a safe place instead of taking it everywhere.
– Women should avoid traveling alone especially during night time
– Keep the contact numbers of the local police station or your friends in case of an emergency.
– Make a note of the taxi registration number and name of the owner.
– Don’t forget to take all your belongings from the taxi before you leave.