This post will tell you how to calculate your taxi fare if you take a yellow taxi in Bogotá. For tips on how to get a cab using a mobile app, please see my post How to get a taxi in Bogota – Taxi apps. For safety tips, take a look at 10 tips for taking a taxi in Bogotá.
My top tip is actually to use Uber cars. If you already have the app on your phone from your own country (as I have in London) then it will work the same here. Just check the address of where you are and request a pick-up. It is practically the same price as a normal taxi and a much more pleasant and safer journey!
How to calculate your taxi fare
Very unhelpfully, the taxi fare system in Bogotá is the opposite of transparent and pretty confusing if you’re not familiar with it. The meter starts at “25” and goes up one unit at a time (i.e. 26….27…28 etc). There should be a sheet of card hanging from the back of the front passenger seat (see photo right) which gives the driver’s name and the number plate of the taxi, and the tariff in the form of a grid. On this grid, you need to:
- Find the final number that the meter shows once the journey has finished (eg. 147) and next to the number it will show a price (eg. $10300) (see image below). During the day (on non-public-holiday days), that will be the price you need to pay the driver.
- If you called for the taxi to pick you up, or requested it via a mobile app (Tappsi or EasyTaxi on Apple and Android), you need to add on a $700 peso surcharge.
- After 8pm you also add on another $1900 surcharge.
- If you have been picked up from the airport, there is a $3900 surcharge to add on to the final amount.
To make it clear, correct as of September 2015:
Phone/App pick-up surcharge = $700
Public holiday or after 8pm night-surcharge = $1900
Airport surcharge – $3900
Taxi fare calculator
The easiest way to cope with this baffling system is to download the app “Calculadora de tarifas“, which allows you to enter the number showing on the meter, and tick any other relevant surcharges which apply – the app will then calculate the total that you owe. It is not necessary to have an internet connection to use the app, only to download it initially.
If you don’t have a smartphone, make sure a copy of the tariff is displayed on the back of the passenger seat (if necessary, ask the driver for “la tarifa“, and he should produce it) and that you make a note of the charges above, because if it’s clear that you’re a tourist and that you aren’t familiar with the system, the drivers WILL take advantage and charge you more than they should. This has happened to me on numerous occasions.
The other common trick is that taxi drivers will deliberately take a particularly long route to your destination, so that you will end up paying more. There is not much you can do about this unless you are familiar with the city and can tell them which streets you want them to take. It’s frustrating but unfortunately something that I have grudgingly begun to accept (though I do sometimes strike up a short conversation with the driver and make comments which indicate that I know the city and am not just an unsuspecting tourist).
My top tip for tourists in Bogotá is NOT to ask the driver at the end of the journey how much you have to pay, because they will invent an amount which is ridiculously higher than what you should be paying. I once read a story of a tourist being charged 20 euros to travel from Chapinero to the Candelaria neighbourhood, a journey which would rarely cost more than $10,000 pesos (4 euros). Don’t be taken for a ride! (metaphorically speaking :))