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Traveling to and from work in London is often done by using taxis. Have you ever wondered how the taxi company generates their fare on the taximeter? The distance between your home and place of work is always the same and the taxi drivers always use the same route, so how is your fare calculated? Obviously, different taxi companies have different rates, but how does the taximeter work to create your fare?

Taxis in the UK, and most parts of Europe, follow the same charging method called ‘Time or Distance Charging’, which follows the European Standard for Taximeters (EN50148). Taxi companies display a ‘Fare Table’ in all of their vehicles, which the taximeter is programmed to. The fare table includes information about your fare including times, distance and costing. An example of a fare table is below:

Rate One:

Day Charge: (06:00 to 21:00 hours, Monday to Friday)

By Distance: for the first 250 meters, or any part thereafter = £2.00p

For any succeeding 250 meters, or part thereof = £0.20p

Waiting Time: for every 60 seconds or part thereof = £0.20p

Using the above fare table, if you travel a journey of 2000 meters, you will be charged £2.00p for the first 250 meters and then £0.20p per meter for the remaining 1750 meters. If you do not keep the taxi driver waiting, the taximeter will display £3.40p at the end of your journey. This is why you see the taximeter already at £2.00p before you even go anywhere.

Now here is the tricky part! If there is a lot of traffic on your route, the taxi company will still charge you. So now we need to calculate the speed of the taxi into the equation. The changeover speed is worked out as below:

Distance (meters)           3600

———————–    X     ——       km/h

Time (seconds)                1000

If we use the rate of the taxi driver using up £0.20 (every 256 meters) per 60 seconds with the driver travelling at 15.9km/h. as you can see the taxi is constantly moving, so the £0.20 waiting time does not apply. If your taxi is waiting in traffic, or for you, the taximeter will calculate using the above formula to generate your waiting time over the distance you have travelled. The £2.00 you initially paid for the first 250 meters does allow you some waiting time.

Not as straight forward as you thought was it? This is why your taxi fare can be different, especially around London due to traffic. This is all due to the waiting time the taximeter was programmed with.

Written by Sohail Ali, the chief Heathrow Taxi coordinator at Beaumont Taxis.