Why My Taxi Driver Didn’t Have to Go to Jail

You see the man had been honest with me, in the sense that dishonesty can be honesty if backed by a law.  It so turned out that the taxi drivers had the right and duty to tack on 6.70€ to the fare just because it was December 31st and not any other day.  Apparently they do the same on Christmas Eve.  It’s a whopping supplement, trust me.  Even going to the airport is cheaper.  Just about anything is, come to think of it.  Here is a list of what this service costs:

  • Entry rate depends on the time of  day and the day itself.  Most of the  time it’s 2.05€, but at night it goes up to 2.20€.  Nocturnal rates for the weekends and      holidays rise to 3.10€.  That’s the post-bar, “Yeah, I’ll take you home, but  it’s going to cost you.”
  • Coming from or going to the airport means an additional 5.50€.
  • If it’s the train or bus station, be prepared to fork over 2.95€.
  • Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, the aforementioned 6.70€.
  • And that doesn’t even count the actual fare of taking you where you have to be.  The specifics of that cost are not mentioned, but they are the usual time/speed/distance factors.

So, in short, if you are thinking of coming from Barajas on New Year’s Eve and it’s past 10:00p.m., you might as well stay at home and save some money.

            Before I went ahead with publishing this, I decided I would check with taxi prices in other parts of the world to see if this kind of highway robbery was particular to Madrid or a worldwide phenomenon.  New York, for example, was once renowned for its cabbies who chauffeured unwary Japanese tourists, they always seemed to be from Japan, from JFK to Manhattan for $300, and that was back in the 80s.  Now it has a fixed rate of $52.00, not including tip.  Anyone who has been in the daily traffic jam on the ailing Van Wyck Expressway and watched the meter tick away mercilessly, will agree the price is a more than reasonable one.  Other than that, though, the average opening fare costs about $2.50, which is pretty economical all things considered.  There is no mention of a Christmas or New Year’s surcharge, either.

     I went back to Europe and noticed that London cabs did include these dates as reasons for hiking the price.  In this case, it’s 4 pounds, which comes to about 5 euros.  Of course, considering that in the United Kingdom, the average monthly salary is around $3,065, compared to $2,325 in Spain, 24% lower, the supplement here in Madrid is all that more painful.

      And what do the French do?  Well, in addition to making good wine, good food, good love, and buying Russian passports to evade taxes, they charge a little bit more for sitting your rear down in the taxi, 2.40€.  They also have different distance rates for different times of the week, and an extra price for a 4th passenger, 3.00€, or its equivalent, two ten-year-old children.  That last feature was an eyebrow raiser, but I guess every country is entitled to its own customs.  On the other hand, they have no supplement for the airports or train station, unlike Madrid, nor does there seem to be an additional cost for the aforementioned holidays.

      Berlin is by far the most expensive place to start off.  3.20€ is the starting rate.  From there, they charge by the kilometer and have supplements for baggage that doesn’t fit in the trunk and a nominal 0.50€ fee to go to the airport.  Other than that, everything seems to go according to the distance you travel.

      So what does this all tell us about me trip home?  Very little, other than that different countries have different strategies, but I must admit that the 6.70€ surcharge in Madrid exceeds what I feel is reasonable considering the standard or living here.  It’s literally highway robbery.  So I began the year just a little bit poorer than my impoverished life of the year before.

      And just when I went to bed that night, I put on some piano music. And the city was very, very quiet.

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