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Taxis in Quito - My experience

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Denver, Colorado USA
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Taxis in Quito - My experience

Over the course of the past couple weeks, I have spent 4 nights/days in Quito. This was my first trip to Quito. I found the taxi drivers to generally be courteous, professional, and (most of them) friendly. I'd say I took about 15 taxi rides in registered taxis. Only once did the driver use the meter. Otherwise you just hop in, explain your destination, and negotiate a fare. The fares were typically $2 or $3 (extremely cheap for distance traveled).

The one time when the driver used the meter my fare was 81 cents. This was for a route that I had previously taken in another taxi that I "negotiated" to $2. So my negotiated fare was more than double the metered fare. Who cares? It was 81 cents vs $2!

A note about explaining your destination to the taxi driver...

My experience is that the taxi drivers don't really know specific destinations (like hotel names or restaurants). For example, I stayed at the Mercure hotel in La Mariscal. It's in a prominent location. Not one taxi driver knew where it was when I provided just the name of the hotel.

However, when I provided the cross streets, they all knew. So I'd hop in and say "Mercure hotel, Amazonas y Roca"

Likewise, we went to a restaurant called La Boca del Lobo. The driver had no idea. Then I said, "La Boca del Lobo, Reina y Calama" the light bulb went on.

So unless you're traveling to a very well known destination, know your cross streets.

Tucson, Arizona
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21. Re: Taxis in Quito - My experience

Registered taxis are yellow, with orange numbered stickers on the front doors. There are a number of private car services with no identifying marks on the cars; these are often used by restaurants or hotels when you request a ride. I don't recall anything denoted by the color of the license plate.

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22. Re: Taxis in Quito - My experience

Hi people... I'm from quito lol. I was searching for a taxi phone number and got here.

About taxis in quito I could say that they are cheaper at day.. but at night they get completely crazy and their fare is almost 4 times... And even tough the meter starts with .35 cents the minimum ride is one dollar.

In quito also are a lot of no yellow taxis that are ok. At night I just take the yellow ones depending where you are.

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23. Re: Taxis in Quito - My experience

Hi people... I'm from quito lol. I was searching for a taxi phone number and got here.

About taxis in quito I could say that they are cheaper at day.. but at night they get completely crazy and their fare is almost 4 times... And even tough the meter starts with .35 cents the minimum ride is one dollar.

In quito also are a lot of no yellow taxis that are ok. At night I just take the yellow ones depending where you are.

Beaverton
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24. Re: Taxis in Quito - My experience

We too ended up taking many taxis and overall thought they were cheap and efficient. We actually paid for transfers as "suggested" by our tour company, Columbus Travel which cost $11/per person, and one of which we didn't even get. Had we known, I would have taken a tax instead of the transfers for sure.

Dallas, Texas
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25. Re: Taxis in Quito - My experience

"Know the cross streets" is good advice for travel anywhere in Latin America. Came up against the same thing in Uruguay.

Extra note: If your Spanish is passable and you have a good secure taxi, taxi drivers are a good source of ideas for places to go. I hopped into a taxi in Quito and told the driver I wanted to go to a place where they cooked a lot of street food late at night (I'd seen this on Anthony Bourdain's show). Me and the taxi driver had a good meal at his favorite late-night spot.

WQst

http://youtu.be/zC4WHni_B8Y

Alberta
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26. Re: Taxis in Quito - My experience

Absolutely. We have been in Quito for three days and we tip everyone who serves us. We gave the cab driver who brought us from the airport $4, he was so pleased. It was late, dark and raining. He deserved it.

During the day, we tip $2.

These people work hard for their livelihoods; if you can afford to travel, you can afford to tip.

Cheongju, South...
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27. Re: Taxis in Quito - My experience

I haven't had major problems with taxi drivers in Quito, however they WILL try to rip you off almost every time. The rare time I've had really fair taxi drivers, that still charge almost double what a taxi meter would read. If taking a cab at night, I highly suggest getting out of the cab and THEN paying through the window. My friend had a cab driver speed off away from her destination demanding more money. This could have been avoided had she got out and then paid.

THIS HAPPENED WITH A REGISTERED CAB WITH AN ORANGE LICENSE PLATE. Since then, I don't trust anyone... there's no use being afraid, but just be AWARE.

Before even getting in, ask if they know how to get to your destination and how much it'll cost. If they don't know where they're going, they're going to drive you around and make you pay for it.

Edited: 3:33 pm, December 28, 2012
Cheongju, South...
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28. Re: Taxis in Quito - My experience

A tip for people getting cabs from the airport... don't take the cabs right outside of the exit. They will charge you at least $7 because they pay $5 to get into the airport. Just walk a little further to the street and take a cab from there, where you'll pay at most $3 depending on where you're going. Cabs will charge more at night for safety reasons

I don't tip taxi drivers here. The tipping culture is incredibly different here compared to North America. To be honest, I feel uncomfortable tipping because, in my opinion, it's like bragging here showing off your money. Just because I can afford to travel, does not mean I have to overspend -- to me, part of traveling is adapting to where I am, and that is part of it. I've been here for 4 months and no Ecuadorians I know tip in cabs, only at restaurants and usually not because they actually work the tip into the prices.

Edited: 3:36 pm, December 28, 2012
Redmond
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29. Re: Taxis in Quito - My experience

About tipping: it's not customary in taxis, although I round it up almost always because the fares haven't been updated in years. My average fare is less than a gallon of good quality gas. That means if they do 1 ride every 30 minutes, after 8 hours they only have money to pay for the gas tank. In restaurants, locals don't tend to tip if 10% is included (unless service is exceptional) but will tip about 10-12.5% if 10% is not included. As a foreigner I usually tip even with 10% as the dynamics of the Service included are different here than in Europe or North America.

Regarding night trips: virtually no taxis will use the meter at night. You need to negotiate the fare beforehand and it will be higher than daylight. Despite the city campaign for demanding the meter at night, it remains the reality. But given the fact that services such as Trole and Ecovía are not frequent at night, and there's no city control I can count on for avoiding the $2 "rip/off", I'm happy paying $2 more at night.

City taxis are yellow, with a number on a sticker placed in both front doors and the windshield, and orange plates. You can send an SMS with the number in the sticker to 2468 (register at www.pasajeroseguro.com) and you and a friend will get back an SMS with information about the cab. Co-op name (taxi line) should match the co-op name that is in the back door.

There are yellow taxis with a black stripe. Plates might be white or orange. They aren't supposed to pick someone from the street, but rather be called. However they might pick you up especially during rush hour. Theoretically they could be fined for doing this but I've never seen it. And personally, Quito teletaxi service is pretty bad (no units available when you need them) especially if you're in a hurry (they're good when it comes to airport transfers, as you can book them especially for late night or early morning trips)

Finally, there are yellow taxis with red or green stripes. They either work outside the city of Quito or have predefined routes. Won't usually stop, and you shouldn't take them generally.

Once in a while you'll see a private car with a Taxi sign. You shouldn't take them. The first telltale sign is that they will take the sign off when they see a cop. It's because a) if they're legitimate drivers, there are hefty fines for working taxi rides without permits or b) there's something else shady about them. Eventually, locals get tired of waiting for a cab (or calling) and will take one of these and once in a while it ends up in an express kidnapping. I'm not saying this might not happen in official cabs as well, but police will always stress that jumping on a private car with no plates and tinted glass is not precisely a wise choice.

(Dynamics of this in Guayaquil are somehow different)

A few years ago, I took 1-2 of those cabs every once in a while because I knew the drivers and felt bad about their business. But the rate of those cabs has declined a lot this year since they became legal "executive" taxis. So no need to feel bad about passing on one of those taxis anymore.

What if you jump in a cab, start your ride and then you start seeing signals of a shady ride? I'm not a cop, but I'd suggest:

1. Calling someone, telling them you're going to where they are, that you took a cab (describe it) and where you are now. You can ask the driver the route he's taking and read it back to the person on the phone. This is less useful if you don't speak spanish.

or

2. Tell the driver you're very sorry but you have no "sueltos", only $1, and tell him to stop in the next corner, and say you're very sorry again, pay him $1 and get off and walk away.

I use (1) all the time, and never had to use (2) but friends tell me that they usually use (2) when they don't like the taxi or the driver (say, a bad B/O problem) -- but we all stress the need of being knowledgeable and careful about taxi transport in Quito.

Finally, I don't advise walking across the airport's street for a cab, and I've said this once or twice in the forum. There are known criminal bands around the airport (they might be focused to document stealing, such as passports) as it happens in lots of airports around the world. International arrivals taxi service is pretty good and very convenient (you pay in a cabin and get a ticket -- no need to negotiate anything) and sincerely speaking given the fact that lots of international flights arrive late at night, $3 is not worthy to carry your stuff around to Departures, then cross the street to get a taxi that will eventually charge you a couple bucks more than they do in daylight -- and take your chances both during the walk and with the taxi.

Situation is very different for domestic travellers, where the airport is crowded all day (but airport closes early at night), taxi supply might be short and you only have hand luggage to carry around. I've even crossed the street and took a bus for $0.25 to work, but it's not something I'd advise to an international visitor arriving at midnight with two suitcases.

This will all change and need to be reassessed with the new airport, though. I still don't know what "across the street" will mean there and most likely fares will be so high that a $2 difference won't be attractive anymore.

Tucson, Arizona
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30. Re: Taxis in Quito - My experience

Good recap of all the info posted on this thread, plus additional tips. Those "cabs" with the hand-printed signs on a piece of cardboard always cracked me up. And I agree that walking across the street from the airport at night, with luggage, is a really dumb idea.

Edited: 8:37 pm, December 30, 2012