Well folks, nearly 4 years and 78 comments later, I can unfortunately confirm that one of my most popular posts continues to reflect one of the biggest challenges to visitors here in Rome: How to Take a Taxi in Rome and Not Get Ripped Off.
Most of the information in that article is still accurate and relevant, but here’s version 2.0.
1. How to Get a Taxi in Rome
I think most locals would agree with me that hailing a cab isn’t as frequent a way to get a taxi in Rome as it might be in other cities. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever hailed a cab here, and many a time I’ve watched as tourists get frustrated by what they consider as rude Roman cab drivers who don’t stop when they are signaled from the curb. Many taxi drivers in Rome operate with a radio service and therefore are already on their way to pick someone up or already have someone in the car. Here are some ways you can get in the door:
If you have a cell phone, this is the easiest way I’ve found so far to get a licensed radio taxi. This number is for the 3570 company; if you know of others that are reliable, please share in the comments section.
Send a text message to the following number: 366 673 0000 (I’ve never tried this from an international phone so I’m not sure if it works, but if you want to give it a go, then you’ll need to first put the international prefix +39)
In the body of the text message, type the following: Roma, [insert address here, for example Via del Tritone 113]
That’s all. Then the service will text you back when they begin the search for the taxi, and another text when the taxi has been found, listing the taxi name, number, and wait time.
This was pretty intimidating to me in the beginning, since I didn’t speak or understand Italian well. Each radio taxi company has a number you can call to request a taxi.
City of Rome “ChiamaTaxi” (Taxi Call Service) Dial 06 06 09
Call and clearly state the street name and building number where you need the cab, and the computer system automatically sends the call to the taxi stand nearest you. The cab driver will then confirm and the caller will receive notice of how long the wait will be.
Other reliable Rome cab company phone numbers (dial 06 before each): Coop. Autoradiotaxi Romana 3570; Radio Taxi 6645; soc. La Capitale 4994; soc. Tevere 4157; soc. Cosmo 88177; coop. Samarcanda 5551
You can identify these by the orange “TAXI” sign. Passengers wait in a line (theoretically—remember, this is Rome) and the first cab in the line takes the first passenger in line. Sometimes if the line is all a jumble, you might have to ask the drivers “Chi è il primo?” (Who’s the first in line?) to know which cab to get into.
2. How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off
Reiterating in brief the points from my previous article:
– Only take city-authorized cabs. They have the “SPQR” city coat of arms on them and a taxi sign on top. I recommend radio taxis (those that have clearly marked phone numbers on the outside doors) because they work with a radio cooperative, not independently, and therefore are less likely to risk ripping you off since their dispatcher knows their fares and you should have recourse for any problems.
– Note the name and license number of the cab driver or cooperative on the inside back door (a small placard will indicate this).
– Know in general where you are and where you’re planning to go, at least having looked at a map of the area or some landmarks for your destination.
– Don’t be shy about arguing if you know you’re being ripped off. Threaten to call the carabinieri (the number is 112). They’ll generally back off if they are being dishonest.
– Know the city-regulated set fares and tarriffs and don’t take a cab without a meter:
Airport fixed rates: 40 euro from Fiumicino to within the Aurelian Walls and vice versa; 30 euro from Ciampino to within the Aurelian Walls and vice versa
Otherwise, there is always an initial fare on the meter, as follows:
€2,80 from 7 am to 10 pm on weekdays
€4,00 from 7 am to 10 pm on Sundays and holidays
€5,80 from 10 pm to 7 am all days of the week
The first bag is free; excess baggage is charged at a rate of €1,00 per bag
If you’re going 12 mph (20 kph) or over, the taxi meter will go up 92 cents for every kilometer (just over a half mile) within the GRA ring road, or €1,52 if you’re outside the GRA ring road.
Wait time charges before cab arrives:
When you call for a cab, they will tell you how long the wait should be. The taxi meter starts from the time the taxi takes your call, which means the initial fare on the meter will be higher if you’ve called a taxi than if you get in from a cab stand. Here are the official city rules, within the city’s ring road, if the cab is supposed to arrive within:
5 minutes = €2
10 minutes = €4
more than 10 minutes = €6
No one is jumping up and down for joy about Rome’s cab service. A survey by the Italian Automobile Club revealed that Rome, along with Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Madrid, Prague, and Vienna, has an “unsatisfactory” rating for taxi service, based on factors like cost, respect for speed limits, unnecessary detours, red-light running, and aggressive driving. In fact, in the final rating report, Rome scored second-to-last, above only Ljubljana, Slovakia.
More depressing news is that, although there is an official form (here in English) for complaints, from my own personal experience, as with many bureaucratic things in Rome, it’s next to worthless. I filled out a complaint after having a really bad experience with a dishonest cab driver in Rome in December 2007, when I was nine months pregnant with my son and I had to ask the driver to stop where we were to let us out because he was cheating us and wouldn’t admit it. Nearly TWO AND A HALF YEARS later I received word that my complaint had been registered and the driver would be “reprimanded,” whatever that involves.
As if that weren’t bad enough, as I was writing this, I got tipped off by a Twitter user to this article that reports of a recent investigation revealing that some Roman cab drivers have rigged fare meters to help them earn up to triple what a normally sanctioned day of fares would earn. Apparently there are unscrupulous mechanics who, for €500, will “fix” the meter so that the meter goes much faster than normal, registering €1 for every 300 meters instead of the city-sanctioned 98 cents per 1 kilometer.
But truly, the easiest and cheapest way for cabbies to rip off passengers is simply to use “Tariffa 2” within the ring road city limits, as opposed to the cheaper and correct Tariffa 1. Or to turn on both and add them together!
This article on Slow Travel is still relevant and helpful, with photos illustrating the points I’ve mentioned.
Happy travels! And remember, not all cab rides are bad! I have some of my best conversations with cab drivers.