The taxi drivers of Bucharest have a mixed reputation. Some of them are honest, friendly and on some occasions polite to the point of being courteous. There are, however, a few of those famous bad apples that spoil it for everyone. These less honest taxi drivers can be found at major traffic areas such as airports and railway stations.
The standard rate per kilometre in a regular taxi (usually a Dacia Logan or a Renault) is currently RON 1,39, and this is usually clearly stated on the vehicle. If there is no visible rate on the side of the car then you should ask the rate, which can often be seen on the meter. If the taxi driver will not provide a rate or use a meter then our advice is to get out of the taxi or there is a strong risk of being over charged. If you are getting into a larger car such as a Mercedes then the rate per kilometre should still be displayed.
Bucharest’s more entrepreneurial taxi drivers are appearing with all sorts of new and inventive ways to fool people into thinking that their cars are in fact regular, good value Bucharest taxis. The most widely used trick is to adapt a logo that looks – at quick glance – much like the logo of an ordinary company. You can see from the two photos how easy it would be to make a mistake.
Here’s your test – which one’s the one that you would trust?
Look carefully: one is 1.3,5 RON, which is potentially a lot more than 1.39 RON. They switch round the comma and full stop in an attempt to trick you. The phrase ‘Buyer beware’ still carries a lot of relevance in this day and age.
These taxis are also notorious for having rigged meters (if they use one at all). They hit the horn or the lights and the rate mysteriously flicks up. Some drivers carry pepper spray as they know there will be trouble if the customer realizes. A member of the Bucharest Expat team learned this lesson the hard way. Bucharest is thankfully one of the safest cities in the world but that does not mean that there are not people ready to relieve you of your hard earned money.
Try and get into the habit, when you approach a taxi, that no matter what the weather, the pressure or stress, just STOP and take care to read the logo before entering any taxi. If in doubt, ask the driver. If you are not sure, look for another taxi. If you arrive at Otopeni airport, use the Fly Taxi cars that are lined up outside the arrivals area. The drivers parked in the car park that offer their services in the arrivals area are not approved and will very possibly try to rip you off. Again, we have learned this the hard way and 130 RON to Pipera was nearly three times the normal rate. The taxi drivers at Baneasa airport are no better – three different drivers all offered the unbeatable rate of 100 RON to Pipera (one was finally coaxed into making the trip for the bargain price of 50 RON).
If you are in most restaurants or hotels the staff will call a reliable company for you. There is the risk that the Concierge staff in some hotels will call their favorite taxi company which may not be the lowest cost so specify that you want to travel with a company that offer value for money (1.39 RON per km).
Be aware that the less honest drivers know what they are doing and are often prepared for trouble. Exercise caution, and you should be able to find one of the many good honest, low cost taxis in Bucharest!