Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Taxis in Israel - How to Hire a Taxi

Whether you're just visiting or have made the big move and are now establishing your life in the Holy Land, there's one thing you're going to be coming in contact with a lot – the Israeli Taxi!

It may seem like a simple matter: 
  • You need to get from A to B as quickly as you can.
  • You see a car travelling by with the words indicating that it's a taxi.
  • You get in to the car ready to pay a certain fee.
  • You arrive at your destination.
  • You pay for the trip.
  • All is well that ends well…


You may need to familiarise yourself with some important facts that may literally save your life. If not your life, you may save hundreds of wasted shekels. And if nothing else, with a few extra tips, you'll find yourself "enjoying" your taxi ride just a little more.

In this post, we will look at the art of flagging down or hiring a taxi. Stay tuned for further posts on what you'll need to be aware of as you travel, and costs involved.

The first thing to know is that if you do need a taxi, there are two ways of getting hold of one.

  1. You can simply flag one down. If you're the conservative type (a well-bred South African for example) you may find yourself a little intimidated, and meekly stick out your hand (even shyly) in the hope that some taxi will imagine you're trying to employ their services. If you try this technique, you probably will not succeed. On the contrary, if you'd rather just look at the taxi as he passes by (without any passengers in it) you may be far more likely to catch his attention then lifting up your finger as you might have done when wanting to ask a teacher a question when you were in the first grade. So, if you're going to succeed, be ready for some action! Boldy stand close to the road with your hands waving about as if you absolutely NEED to get somewhere (and have lots of money to get there!) Be warned though - look left and right – not for the cars (which might not be conscious of you in any case) – but rather for the other hopeful passengers who may wish to take the taxi before you do! If there's no one else around – you're likely to find a taxi coming by soon!  If there are others, you may find yourself flagging a taxi… for someone else. If you're looking for a day filled with smiles, avoid these confrontations. All you want to do is flag the taxi down and get in. You simply don't want to have to fight with someone else who felt you'd done all the hard work for them…
  2. You can also hire a taxi by simply making a phone call to one of the well‑known companies and tell them your needs. They will be happy to come and pick you up (especially if you establish a price beforehand which makes things worth their while – but more on this in a later post.) You may be charged an extra 4 odd shekels for this call-up service. For some reason when doing business in Israel and asking for "special favours" you get charged more – even if the service is exactly the same! So if you're looking to save money – go with option 1. If you're looking for service when you need it – go for option 2 and be ready with some extra cash!
Well done. You've managed to get a taxi. But is it all downhill from here? Tune into our next post where we examine some things that you must be aware of. If you're not, you'll end up wasting money – and possibly a lot more!

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