In Bogotá, hailing a taxi from the street is not recommended, especially at night. Calling for a taxi may be a daunting prospect for someone with a lower-than-intermediate level of Spanish. But never fear; here are two mobile apps which solve this problem, helping you to get a taxi in Bogota easily – Tappsi and EasyTaxi. You will need a wi-fi or data connection in order for them to work, and you will need to add an extra 700 pesos to the cost of your journey (known as ‘puerta a puerta’ – door-to-door – service) Here’s how to use them:
Tappsi and EasyTaxi
1) Open the app. The first screen will show you a Google map and will roughly locate where you are (turn on your GPS to improve accuracy). This is usually accurate to within a couple of blocks of where you actually are. At the top of the screen you will see a box for you to type in your location (see image right)
2) You need to enter your location in the exact format shown in this image, including the spaces and the hash, otherwise it may not work properly. If you are at a restaurant or bar, ask someone who works there what the address is: “Cuál es la dirección de este lugar? Quiero pedir un taxi.” Many restaurants and bars have wi-fi access, so ask for the password in case you don’t have a data connection. Some bars and restaurants will also order taxis for you if you ask.
3) Once you have entered the correct address, tap “Pick me up here!” at the bottom, and the app will start searching for a taxi near to your location.
4) Once it has found one, the screen will show the name of the driver, the number plate of the taxi, the code which you need to give to the driver when he arrives, and the estimated time of arrival (which isn’t an exact science in reality!).
5) Make sure you stand outside and start watching out for your taxi – sometimes taxis arrive and if they don’t see someone on the street immediately approaching them, they will leave straightaway, and you will lose your taxi! When he arrives, check that the number plate matches the one on the app, and that the tariff on the back of the passenger seat shows the name of the driver given on the app.
6) Give the driver your code, then your destination. For tips on how to make sure you pay the right taxi fare (because taxi drivers WILL screw you over, given the opportunity!), check out this post, How to take a taxi in Colombia, and this one, 10 tips for taking a taxi in Bogota, which will explain EVERYTHING!
At rush hour it can be impossible to get a taxi, even using the taxi apps above – there’s now a ‘tip’ (VIP) feature on Tappsi which allows you to offer the driver a tip prior to him picking you up. This has meant that people have ended up having to offer tips of 2000, 5000 or even 7000 pesos in order to get a cab quickly during rush hour (as taxi drivers will reject normal fares, waiting until a customer comes up offering a big tip). Furthermore, the ‘service’ provided by a majority of taxi drivers (in my experience) is below par; they often drive dangerously and aggressively, and 90% of taxis do not have functioning seat-belts in the back seats. Furthermore, many drivers do not display the tariffs which explain how much you have to pay, allowing them to charge what they want if the passenger is unwilling (or unable) to fight for their rights! On a number of occasions I’ve also taken a taxi with a meter which has been tampered with, so that the numbers go up more quickly than they should, and you end up paying around 20% more at the end of your journey.
For these reasons Uber has become a popular alternative. Download the app onto your smartphone, register your credit card details, and you’ll be able to order a secure and reliable service, at a price which is only about 20-25% more expensive than taking a yellow taxi.