TAKING TAXIS IN UKRAINEBY ALEKS KRAVCHENKO
Just like in any country of the world, riding a taxi in Ukraine is not the cheapest way of getting from point A to point B. But despite the cost, taxi offers a number of benefits which otherwise are not available with other means of public transportation: a taxi is faster, it picks you up at your location, and gets you to where you need to be without any stops on the way. And since you are the only person riding in the taxi, there is no need to worry about pick pockets – just another icing on the cake.
IS IT SAFE TO TAKE A TAXI?
Raising a question of safety before visiting a foreign country is very common. Fortunately, in Ukraine it is reasonably safe to take a taxi. But you need to use common sense.
There are two types of taxis, with one being a bit safer than the other.
TYPES OF TAXI
When in need of a taxi service, there are two main alternatives: a private taxi, or a cab run by a taxi company (conventional taxi).
Private. Out of the two, private taxis are least safe, especially for people who don’t speak a local language (in Western Ukraine the local language is Ukrainian, and in the rest of Ukraine it is Russian). These vehicles are not equipped with a meter, so the cost of a ride entirely depends on the price you negotiate with the driver.
It is crucially important that you negotiate the price before you get in the vehicle; otherwise you run the risk of being over-changed upon arrival to your place of destination. Needless to say, the cost of a ride depends on the distance, the city (e.g. taxi fares in Kiev are higher than in Poltava), and the “greed” of a taxi driver. As such, there is no way I can tell what would be the average price for a taxi ride in Ukraine.
Private taxis can be found at train and bus stations, near bus stops, and just about any other spot of a city. You can pull over one of these taxis by stretching out your hand.
Generally, riding a private cab is more costly than that run by a taxi company. An exception to this rule is when you are using the same cab over and over. In that case, the driver may offer you a much better deal for being a loyal client.
Run by a taxi company. These cabs are generally equipped with a long antenna and a sign on the roof with two numbers written on it: one of the company’s telephone number and the other of a personal ID number assigned to this specific cab. These elements help you distinguish one type of taxi from the other. In addition to that, all such cabs are equipped with a meter that you can refer to to determine the final cost of a ride.
Each moderately large city of Ukraine has more than one company that provides taxi services. Each such company has various phone numbers you can dial to order a cab; you can call their landline (stationary) telephone number, as well as one of their cell phone numbers (these are listed on business cards that are distributed by taxi drivers).
Below is the information the taxi dispatcher may ask you to provide them with when ordering a taxi:
- Your current location
- The location where you want to be picked up (if different from your current location)
- The destination
Most of the time the taxi dispatcher will let you know the personal ID and the plate number of a cab that is to pick you up, as well as the time you need to wait for it to arrive.
Please note: if you are ordering a taxi from your mobile phone, the cab details, as well as the exact cost of a ride, may be sent to you in a text (SMS).
Usually, it does not take more than 10 minutes for a cab to get to your location. A notable exception to this rule is when the weather is bad, and everyone wants a cab. In those circumstances, consider calling a taxi service at least 30 minutes in advance.
To determine the cost of a ride, look on the meter, which is generally installed in all cars of this type.
PAYING FOR THE RIDE
It is very typical when the price of a ride is not a whole number, such as UAH 25.60. In moments like these, do not search your pockets for the change. Instead, consider paying either UAH 25, or UAH 26 (preferred in this example). Searching for the change may make you look a bit cheap in the eyes of the driver and your Ukrainian friends.
Please note: each taxi company sets a minimum fare of a ride one has to pay even if the meter states a lower fee. Regardless of in which city of Ukraine you are located, this minimum fare should not be greater than UAH 20 (even in Kiev). As of this writing (Nov. 27, 2012), the minimum fare of a ride in Poltava is UAH 14.
Here is an example: if the minimum fare of a ride is UAH 14 (as set by a taxi company), but the meter shows UAH 12, you will end up paying UAH 14.
Most of the time a journey in a taxi will cost you more than the amount of a minimum fare.
A FEW TIDBITS
- Do not make a taxi driver angry by slamming the door of a car. With the average salary in Ukraine as low as it is, having a car is a bit of a luxury. As such, the majority of Ukrainian drivers treat their cars with a special care.
- 99 percent of taxi dispatchers, as well as taxi drivers, do not speak English.
- Do not leave any of your belongings in a cab (even that run by a taxi company). There is a great likelihood that you will never be able to re-possess them.
- Generally, Ukrainians do not tip taxi drivers.
- The meter normally shows you 3 bits of information: the total cost of a ride (includes all fees), the cost of a car delivery (also included in the total cost of a ride), and the cost of a ride per 1 kilometer.
- Before smoking in a cab, first ask driver if they are okay with it.
NUMBERS FOR TAXI IN POLTAVA
Landline (good for calling from local stationary phones): 1567, 1505, 1506, 1566
Cell phone numbers (good for calling from local mobile phones, as well as your own country’s cell; with the later, add Ukraine’s international telephone code, which is “+38”):
- (067) 152-4698
- (050) 135-9900
- (063) 123-9574
- (068) 876-5832
Learn more on how to call in Ukraine.
The average cost of a taxi ride within Poltava is around UAH 30, which is a bit less than US $4.00.