We explain how taxis can charge, how to read the meter on metered rides, your rights as a passenger and what you can expect from the driver.
Join today and get instant access to all test results and research.
Taxi drivers have to agree the basis of the fare with the passenger before the ride starts. The fare may be calculated by a meter, agreed by negotiation or through an app.
Taxis no longer have to use meters but may still choose to use one. Fares based on metered rates have 3 main components:
This is the cost of getting into the cab. You're up for this charge before the cab even leaves the kerb.
A cheaper flag fall doesn't necessarily mean a cheaper trip as some firms combine cheap flag falls with more expensive tariffs to add up to a more expensive fare overall.
The tariff or rate is the cost to travel one kilometre. Taxi firms often use different tariffs depending on the time of day or night. Some use different tariffs when four or more passengers are in the vehicle.
Taxi meters automatically reduce the tariff when the cab is stationary or going slower than 20km/h. They then switch to a waiting rate calculated by the minute.
The flag fall is combined with the tariff and the total is displayed on the taxi meter.
Extras are other expenses that are unrelated to the time or distance of the journey. The most common extras are charges for catching a cab to or from an airport, which are paid to the airport authority. Some companies also use extras to charge more for late night/early morning trips, or for carrying bikes or other large items. You'll also be up for a fee if you "soil" the cab.
Taxi meters allow cabbies to add extra fees to any journey. If you don't know why you are being asked to pay extras, ask the cabbie. They must be able to explain what you are paying for. Extras are usually displayed on the taxi meter in their own window.
At the end of the journey, the extras are added to the tariff costs to give the total fare. If you choose to pay with a credit card, eftpos or voucher, most firms expect you to pay an extra fee on top of the fare. This isn't displayed on the meter.
Many companies use one rate for all business. But some use different rates at night or on public holidays. Some use different rates for journeys that start or finish outside their usual territory.
If you agree to a metered fare, the taxi meter remains on hired for the journey.
This is a combination of the flag fall and the mileage rate accrued during the journey.
Extras may be charged for phone bookings, heavy luggage, or airport fees. If extras are added to your fare and you don't know why, ask the driver to explain them.
All cab drivers must have a passenger (“P”) endorsement ID card. Ask for it if you don't see it.
Taxis must display a small passenger service licence. This should be shown on the windscreen above the registration label.
For safety reasons, taxis operating in most urban areas are required to have video cameras.
Drivers are no longer required to have an area knowledge certificate. Instead, they may refer to a map or GPS to find addresses.
You can expect your driver to act in an orderly and civil manner, drive safely at all times and to provide a clean, safe vehicle for your journey. A taxi is a workplace - smoking is not permitted by either you or the driver.
The taxi industry was very heavily regulated until 1989. Before then the government limited competition with strict controls on the number of cabs on our streets.
Today the industry is a lot more open, there are more cabs and companies on the streets and there is greater competition for your business.
Part of the deregulation was complete freedom for taxi companies to set their own fare schedules. There are no regulations at all controlling what cabbies can charge, or how the different components of the fare relate to each other.
But they do have to agree the basis of the fare at the start of the trip and can’t ask you to pay more than agreed. You can also request a receipt.
When catching a taxi:
The Consumer Advice Line is available to all our members for support on any consumer-related issue. Our expert advisers can explain your rights and help you resolve problems with a retailer. Become a member now from just $9.95 and let us help you get a resolution.
This information is available to Consumer members only.