When taking a taxi it is difficult to know if the price you were charged was a fair price or if you got “taken for a ride.” If you have a little time to do some quick research and some simple math, however, you can save yourself some money on your ride and get the peace-of-mind of knowing that you received a good deal.
The first step in calculating the fair fare is to map out your route to determine the distance. This can be done by going to any of the various mapping sites such as Google Maps. Use the directions option to generate the route from your pick-up location to your drop-off location. Depending on the mapping site that you use, you may be presented with several routes. Always choose the route that is the fastest (in minutes). Since taxicab drivers are on a demanding schedule and travelers are typically in a hurry, drivers will almost always take the fastest route over the shortest route.
The next step is to determine what the taxicab rates are for the city that you are traveling in. Each city will have different rules and regulations regarding taxicab rates and the maximum rates that taxis can charge. This information can usually be found on a city’s government website (a quick Google search of “city of city name taxicab regulations” will usually get you to this page quickly). If you don’t want to take the time to find this, a good estimate is to use an initial fare of $2.50 and $2.35 per mile. Now that you know the distance and the rates for your ride you can calculate the cost of your ride using some simple math:
Add 5% to the calculated distance (take the distance times 1.05).
Multiply the new distance times the per-mile rate.
Add the initial fare charge.
For airport pick-ups, add $4-6.
To demonstrate, we will use an example from Minneapolis, MN:
Example fare from MSP airport:
Trip Distance: 13 mi, Taxi Rates: $2.50 initial fare + $2.50 per mi ($.50 per 1/5 mi)
Calculate the Fair Fare:
13 x 1.05 = 13.65
13.65 $2.50 = $34.13
$34.13 + $2.50 = $36.63
$36.63 + $4 = $40.63
Once you know what is a fair price for your ride, book your taxi online on a website that provides flat rates or call a taxicab company and ask for a flat rate. A flat rate guarantees that you will pay a guaranteed price regardless of traffic conditions or which route the driver may take. Be sure that the flat rate you are given is about the same or less than the rate that you calculated. If you are making a phone call to book your ride, don’t let them know that you have done your homework and know the fair price for the ride, first ask them what the flat rate would be. If the rate they propose is higher, negotiate down to your calculated rate. If it is lower, you just got yourself an even better deal.
Remember, if you’re willing to take a little time to do some quick research and math, no matter what city you are in, you can always avoid getting “taken for a ride” and always receive a fair fare.