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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 July, 2004, 13:47 GMT 14:47 UK
Share your best cabbie tales
Prince Charles talks with John Sheen after riding in his cab from Clarence House to visit a taxi drivers' shelter in London's Hanover Square, July 20th 2004
More than 100 cabbies were invited by Prince Charles to a reception at Clarence House in recognition of their contribution to London life.

The Prince thanked the taxi drivers for their charity work and for providing a safe and reliable transport service.

What do you think of London's cabbies? What do you think they contribute to London life? Send us your London black cab experiences.

This debate has now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Your comments:

I have certainly never met anyone with such a wonderful map of London in their heads!
Fiona Malvern, London

My experiences with cabbies have always been good ones - there is a novelty about riding in a taxi, the drivers are always polite. I have certainly never met anyone with such a wonderful map of London in their heads!
Fiona Malvern, London, UK

They're fabulous... if you have the money. The not-so-well-off amongst us can only look on in envy as they drive past us on our way to the tube station in the rain.
Clare, London, England

It was Christmas in London 2002, my friend and I went to Covent Garden for a meal and on the way there got talking to the driver who had had a bad day with foreign drivers, he ducked and dived and got us to our venue. During the meal there was a commotion, turning round there was my taxi driver clutching my bag and shopping which I had left in his cab. Honesty pays and a sense of humour. In this age of dog eat dog thank goodness for honesty.
Rita Scriven, Adelaide, Australia

When I moved to London I got in a black cab, and starting asking the cabbie how his day had been. He turned around and said "You must be an Aussie. I haven't met one yet who can just sit in the back and shut up". We laughed all the way to our destination.
Helen, Australia

We have an old one that drives around the streets here in central Florida. People are always honking their horns and waiving at the fellow driving it. Brings a smile to my face. Oh how I wish I were in London with my mum.
Yvette, Altamonte Springs, Florida

He flat out refused to take our money for the journey
David Glenister, London, UK
My keenest memory is after my 18th when we went out in Leicester Square, me and a mate jumped in a black cab and asked to go to Kings Cross. In the cab we started talking to the cabby and got onto the subject of football. When he learnt we supported lower division football teams (Wycombe Wanderers and Lincoln City) he flat out refused to take our money for the journey, saying more young people should support little clubs rather than the big premiership teams! Legend!
David Glenister, London, UK

I love them, sure they are expensive, but what isn't nowadays? I feel extra special somehow when in one of them - like royalty. Something to do with their high ceiling perhaps?
Jennifer, London, UK

Last year I was visiting my brother in London and took a cab from the Victoria Station to his flat. Like the bumbling tourist I was I had all sorts of bags, one of which popped open, and the contents spilled out. My expensive camera rolled under the seat, which I did not see. I didn't notice it missing until later that night. I was lamenting the loss and came back to his flat dejected when I heard, "Oi, mate". I looked up and it was the cab driver waiting at the flat with my camera! He found it at the end of the shift and came back to deliver it. What honesty! We took a picture together and I sent a copy when I got back to the States to him and his supervisor with big note of thanks from a Yank.
John, Los Angeles, California

The cabbie who, whilst doing an illegal U turn last week, ran over my foot
John, England
The cabbie who rushed my friends small son to hospital, refusing to accept a fare, was quite literally a life saver. I feel somewhat less warm towards the cabbie who, whilst doing an illegal U turn last week, ran over my foot!
John, England

I have only used a black cab once. My daughter and I flagged one down to take us from the Royal Albert Hall to the Grosvenor House Hotel at 10.50pm on a Friday night. I felt safe in the knowledge that our driver would be a professional who knew his job inside-out, and the 6 fare was worth every penny for that feeling of security alone. Londoners who complain at the cost of black cabs should try getting a taxi they feel safe riding in at that time on a Friday night in Leeds!
Jill Cockerham, Leeds, UK

I remember one taxi driver most clearly. He just spoke at me about current cinema topics for the whole four mile journey - mad!
David, Grantham

I call them the rats of the road and we would be better off without them. They are expensive, uncomfortable and noisy. Why should they be allowed down bus lanes? Carrying a single passenger I don't see them deserving any more right of way than most cars.
Rex, Chessington, UK

As a girl on her own in a new city those cabbies really helped me out
Allie, London

When I first came to London as a student I was a little wary of the transport system late at night, and used to get cabs home if I was out late. One night I was on the Strand and all my friends had got their lifts home to North London, but I was going south. After standing there on my own trying to find a cab, one pulled up and asked where I was going. He'd finished working for the night but offered to take me home while he was waiting for his Chinese takeaway! Another time I'd taken some friends to the station but there was a major incident on the tube and the only way home was by taxi. The roads were so snarled up that after sitting in jams for over an hour, the driver offered to just take me to the nearest tube station and when we got there only wanted 5 in payment. Yes, I have had cabbies who won't go south of the river and cabs are expensive, but as a girl on her own in a new city those cabbies really helped me out.
Allie, London

When my 6-year old was a baby, I decided to visit London with my sister-in-law, two nephews and the baby in a not very fold up pram. (I must have been mad!) Anyway, we drove to Crystal Palace then train and bus to various places and attractions. By the end of the afternoon we were all exhausted and none of us fancied the trip back on a crowded bus. Admittedly the first black cab driver we approached refused to take us because we were going south of the river, but a second one took pity on us and took us. I can remember dreading what the fare would be but when we arrives at our destination the fare was very fair and the driver couldn't have been more helpful.
Nicky, England

I used to own a black Polo and was at a set of traffic lights while driving through London when a group of Japanese tourists got into the back thinking I was cabbie. It took some real hard work to explain that I wasn't a taxi.
Mark Malik, Teesside, UK

Thanks to extensive driver training, black cabs are the best in the world, but at a price. They cost a fortune and are too rare. I would like to see a larger second tier of licensed cabs without the knowledge, but for half the price.
Russ, London, UK

I like the fact that some do charity work, first I've ever heard of it!
Tom, Newcastle

Black cabs are a rip off, always have been and always will be. If the UK's transport system was any good then we wouldn't be taken to the cleaners to travel all of 10 miles for about 40 if not more. I like the fact that some do charity work, first I've ever heard of it!
Tom, Newcastle

We were in a black cab some years ago coming up to Hyde Park Corner, before the traffic lights were installed, on a particularly busy day. A somewhat timid lady driver had been stuck trying to get into the traffic when our driver reached out of his window with the comment, "Awright, darlin', I'll 'old yer 'and and see yer across".
Gareth, Bermuda

My father loved the cabbies of London. He would hire a cabbie for the day when he travelled there from California. They would take him to all his special places. He became good friends with one particular cabbie. They corresponded faithfully until my father died. George, one of the cabbies, visited my father in Palm Springs on several occasions. There is something quite wonderful about your cab drivers. Thank you for making my dad's trips memorable.
Patricia, San Francisco, US

Black cab drivers are full of all sorts of information and statistics. And I honestly believe that 89.6% of all London cabbies are West Ham fans!
James, London, UK

Oh yes, no week would be complete without one of those cheerful cabbies pulling a U turn right in front of me and nearly knocking me off my bike. Gor bless 'em.
Simon Dunsby, UK

Another black cab/Heathrow story - I had arranged for a minicab to meet my incoming flight, but it didn't turn up. I queued for a black cab for the seven mile journey home for nearly half an hour. When I got to the front of the queue, one cabbie after the other refused to take me because it wasn't worth their while. It took the intervention of a police officer to get a cabbie to take me home - at a cost of nearly 60. Greedy, unfriendly rip-off merchants.
Mo C, Surrey, UK

As far as I am concerned they are the best in the world - ride on!
John Norris, London

I've been using black cabs regularly since 1965. They pre-date all other forms of public transport and are held in high esteem by Londoners and visitors alike. Passengers that complain about the cost of a cab no doubt complain about the cost of everything else as well. Those that complain about a rude cabbie likely find most people rude. In one day earlier this month I witnessed a cabbie refuse to take a fairly substantial fare from a Burma Star veteran and later one that refused the clock fare from me because he felt he should have taken a less congested route! Can any other city match that - I doubt it. As far as I am concerned they are the best in the world - ride on!
John Norris, London

I noticed that a lot of people have been questioning the reliability and safety of black cabs. Well, try looking at the alternative - an uninsured and badly maintained saloon car - with an unlicensed foreign driver. I know which I would prefer!
Rob Watson, Winchester, Hampshire

They clog up the City and the West End during the day, filling the air with foul fumes while they drive around with no passengers
Will Duffay, Welling

Reliable?! Try finding one late at night, or one prepared to go south of the river. They clog up the City and the West End during the day, filling the air with foul fumes while they drive around with no passengers. They're too expensive too. And they expect everybody else to get out of the way, but it's okay for them to block the road!
Will Duffay, Welling, Kent

Why just London cabs? We do have taxis in Yorkshire as well you know! In fact, as far as I'm aware, they're pretty much a nationwide phenomenon.
Sam, Leeds

My wife and I came out of Leicester Square Tube station and hopped in a cab and gave the name of the theatre we wanted to go to. The cab rolled forward about 30 feet and the cabbie said there you go! Lovely!
Tony King, UK

This looks like another Prince of Wales attempt at showing us how in touch he is with the masses. Not that he has ever stood in the pouring rain late at night and tried to get a cab home, worrying for his personal safety and the lack of cabs willing to go anywhere other than out East. It's all a bit hollow when you consider the reality of what sort of service is provided in general.
Anon, UK

I wonder if the Prince will make reference to cab drivers' complete disregard for cyclists.
Ian, UK

Let's not get carried away here. Whoever suggested that black cabs provide a "safe and reliable transport service" has obviously never been a pedestrian in Central London. Nice and safe if you're sitting in the back while he's doing that illegal U-turn - but for other street users they're almost as dangerous as the dreaded Post Office vans.
Stuart W, London, UK

These days there isn't much to feel genuinely proud of about London life but the black cabs and the people who drive them, is one of them. The Hackney carriage office is a venerable institution and long may it continue. No other city in the world provides such efficient, clean, safe and above all, knowledgeable taxi drivers. I only wish we would either ban minicabs altogether or, bring them under the auspices of the carriage office too.
Will, England

London cabbies are astounding in their knowledge of the city. You can basically get into a cab blindfolded and you know you'll be taken by the best route wherever you want to go. In Paris, you get the impression that the only criteria required is for the driver to know how to drive (sort of!). I remember getting into a Parisian taxi and giving the easiest of destinations. The driver pulled out a map! When I expressed my surprise and told him the route he said that he'd only arrived in Paris that week!
Joe Ryan, Chartres, France

About 12 years ago, I was standing one late rainy evening alone at a bus stop at the top of Holland Park Road in London, when a black cab stopped and the driver offered a lift. As I had just about enough money to pay for the bus, I refused. He then said that he doesn't want to be paid. Of course I was suspicious and asked him why he would want to give me a lift for free? He explained that he doesn't like seeing young girls at this time at night in the rain alone at a bus stop and that he was going in that direction anyway. I jumped in (still slightly suspicious) but he brought me home safe and sound and didn't even want my bus fare when I offered. I am amazed and grateful about his gesture up to this day.
Nicole, UK

Black cab drivers are a rip-off. Several years ago I came back to Heathrow from a long-haul trip and took a black cab to my home a few miles away. The cab driver, obviously keen to get back to Heathrow to jump the queue, abandoned me halfway complaining that he had faulty brakes. He asked me to get out of the cab while he opened the bonnet of his cab and looked at his engine. He then told me that he had called for another cab so that I could continue my journey. He left me stranded and took money off me for the journey so far. He promptly got back into his cab and returned to Heathrow. Black cab drivers are rude, offensive and bad drivers. I would never use a black cab again. They are an embarrassment to London and should be banned.
Taz, UK

Thanking them for charity is one thing, thanking them for "providing a safe and reliable transport service" is another. With the money they charge I'd expect nothing less! What about bus/tram/train drivers?
Margaret, Kent

How about Cabbies & Have Your Say contributors uniting and setting up government... We are both full of opinions of how we'd do it so much better!
Andrew, Leighton Buzzard, UK


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