Cab ride to confusion street

Hailing a ride in some cities is as risky as Russian roulette

New York's cabbies were more civil than expected - but are pricey and not always sure of destinations.Picture/Grace Dobson Phillips
New York's cabbies were more civil than expected - but are pricey and not always sure of destinations.Picture/Grace Dobson Phillips

If you want to be a New York taxi driver, the first thing you need to learn is where the horn is.

If the car in front of you doesn't take off a nano-second after the traffic light turns green - honk your horn.

If a stupid Kiwi tourist tries to walk on a pedestrian crossing in Manhattan when the walk sign has turned red - honk that horn.

During my Christmas holiday I spent time in New York and encountered some great New York taxi drivers: they were courteous, knew the destination and even asked if it was OK if they could take a different route as the highway to JFK airport was jam- packed.

So it surprises me that New York cabbies have rated poorly in an international survey of the world's worst taxi drivers.

For a start, if you tried to drive around Manhattan during work hours you too would be honking that horn non-stop, plus it costs a staggering US$700,000 ($837,000) to own a taxi medallion - a piece of tin affixed to the dashboard from a local authority which permits you to operate as a taxi driver.

I also headed to Trinidad and Tobago - the southern Caribbean islands where any cab "medallions" are found around the drivers' necks! Private taxis are rife - you just stand on the dodgy footpaths and some beat up old car will stop. Never mind that the private taxi is holding up traffic on the narrow roads.

So, because of the private drivers' random stopping, I nominate T & T cabbies for worst taxi drivers in the world.

Here is the official list according to

Kuala Lumpur: Drivers here are well known for overcharging clients and detouring. Even though they are supposed to charge by the meter, many drivers refuse to do so. Cabs in Kuala Lumpur can often be rather old and in poor condition.

Rome: Cars are scarce and the drivers are often rude and difficult to deal with. If it's raining, expect to pay double or triple the price.

Bangkok: Many tuktuk drivers in the Thai capital are out of work farmers trying to make a living so often get lost.

Paris: The drivers are known for being rude and difficult at times but, if you speak French, it's easier to get around in the French capital.

New York: Although the yellow cabs are regarded as cost-effective, many drivers do not know the area so the fare can be a lot more than you expected.

Mumbai: The Indian drivers will actually fight over your business, and safety is not always the best here. Many old cars don't have seatbelts.

Zurich: English is not always spoken, and Zurich minicabs are often quite expensive. Unless your destination is very well known, such as the airport or a very large hotel, come prepared with your own directions or hope that the driver has a GPS.

Cairo: The drivers are known for following people around and stalking them in their efforts to get more business.

Shanghai: In China, you'd better have your destination written down on paper in Chinese, otherwise you are never going to find the destination you seek.

Moscow: Availability is not always the best and it can be really hard to find vehicles in some areas of Moscow. Many illegal cars are driving around in Moscow and trying to get your business.

- NZ Herald

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