A good way to get around Rio de Janeiro is by taxi. They are cheap, fast and worth it, especially if you have company to share the price with. Though it’s easy to get a taxi in Rio, there are some things you should know before using them.
Regular yellow taxis
The cheapest taxis are also the most common ones, bright yellow with a blue strip. They have a taximeter, which shows the price and rate charged at the moment. There are 2 rates, or “bandeiras” (which means “flags”): “1” is valid from Monday to Saturday from 6AM to 9PM, and “2” on other times, holidays and the month of December.
The journey starts with a minimum price (R$ 4,80 as of 14/July/2014) and the taximeter should be reset. Some drivers can try to give you a fixed price, much higher, especially if they notice you are a tourist. Avoid these ones, it’s illegal.
With few exceptions, there are always hundreds of yellow cabs available circulating and it’s easy to hail one of them wherever in Rio you are. There are also taxi stands throughout the city from where you can arrange a taxi.
Although most cars have a GPS, it’s important to make sure the driver knows how to get to your destination. They usually can only speak Portuguese, so always try to carry the name and address of the place you’re going on a piece of paper. The same is valid for your hotel or accommodation.
Choose taxis with a company’s name on its side. It means they work for a company or are part of a cooperative, and are more reliable.
Booking a taxi by phone
There are dozens of radio taxi companies in Rio and this service is very useful for tourists. Their cars are usually blue, green or white. You call the company and tell the operator where you are and the place you want to go. As soon as they find a taxi available, they will send it to pick you up. These taxis also have a taximeter and it starts running only when you get into the car. Radio taxis are more expensive than yellow cabs and their starting ride fare is R$ 6,30 (as of 14/July/2014). It’s also a good option for those who want to pay with credit card. Make sure to tell the operator you need a car with this service. The operators usually don’t speak English, so ask at the hotel, restaurant or nightclub if they can order a taxi for you.
Taxi booking apps
The most modern way to get a taxi in Rio are the taxi apps, available for smart phones and tablets. Very trusted by cariocas (i.e. the local people of Rio de Janeiro), they are convenient and available in many languages. You only need to download the app, confirm your location and it will find you a taxi – as long as you are connected to internet. Easy Taxi and 99 Taxis are the most used in the city.
At the airport and bus station
Drivers and taxi company agents will start to hassle you crazily when you get near the exit doors. Avoid them, as they will charge you a high fixed price. The cheapest way is to get a yellow regular taxi outside. However many drivers decide to take the longest way to get a higher price on the taximeter. The prepaid taxis, which have a fixed rate according to destination, will get you rid of this doubt and take you safely to your destination, but you’ll need to pay about 40% more for the tranquility.
At the bus station, prepaid taxis wait passengers at about 200 meters of the arrivals door, on the left. At Galeão Airport find the desk of Transcopass in the arrivals hall. Regular taxis are ok at Santos Dumont Airport and they stay in front of the exit door.
This article was written by Lilian Müller, a Brazilien journalist, travel writer and translator from Rio de Janeiro. You can reach her via her Facebook page.