Finding an accessible taxi is often one of the greatest challenges when traveling with a wheelchair. In many cities, wheelchair taxis are unreliable, have lengthy wait times or advance notification requirements, or may not exist at all. But in London, 100% of the iconic black cabs are wheelchair accessible thanks to a ramp that folds out from the floor.
London Black Cabs are wheelchair accessible
I have written in the past about how the TX4 London Cab has been used to create access where it has not existed before, to cities like Cairo, Egypt and Beijing, China. As its name suggests, the TX4 London Cab first took to the streets in London, and has become one of the world’s most recognizable vehicles.
Although Londoners refer to them as “black cabs,” they come in a variety of colors. Take this red/maroon one, for instance:
The wheelchair ramp folds out from the floor of the London Cab, allowing wheelchair users to roll directly inside the taxi. It is important to note that these cabs are not as spacious of the van conversions you’ll find in other cities (especially in the USA), but my power wheelchair does fit inside.
If you’re in Central London, you’ll see these taxis everywhere. Just raise your hand on the sidewalk, and you’ll have a taxi at your disposal within minutes, if not seconds. If the cab will meet your accessibility needs, you’ll have a sense of freedom that you may not ever have experienced before. Hailing a cab on the street, it’s really a marvel for wheelchair users.
There are larger vehicles with ramps to accommodate wheelchair users as well. Many cab drivers of full-size vans like the one pictured above have a portable wheelchair ramp to assist customers, but the grade of the ramps are steep. The incline in the photo above is a bit extreme, because there was no curb at the pick-up point. I made it in, but it would have been much more manageable if laid out onto a curb.
Some areas in Central London are being restricted to private vehicles and taxis, which has been a cause for concern for disability rights groups. Although this should not impact the experiences of most tourists, it is worthwhile to keep in mind when planning a journey. Recent NFL games played in London sparked a surge in understanding that mobility for stations is key, but taxis are essential for the few stations that aren’t accessible otherwise.
London Taxi Fares
Taxi cab fares in London are regulated by the government, and fall into three categories based on the date and time of the journey. Transport for London provides the following information on how fares are calculated.
Tariff 1 — Monday to Friday, 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. (except public holidays)
- For the first 234.8 metres or 50.4 seconds (whichever is reached first) there is a minimum charge of £2.60
- For each additional 117.4 metres or 25.2 seconds (whichever is reached first), or part thereof, if the distance travelled is less than 9656.1 metres there is a charge of 20p
- Once the distance has reached 9656.1 metres then there is a charge of 20p for each additional 86.9 metres or 18.7 seconds (whichever is reached first), or part thereof
Tariff 2 — Monday to Friday, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday or Sunday, 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. (except public holidays)
- For the first 191 metres or 41 seconds (whichever is reached first) there is a minimum charge of £2.60
- For each additional 95.5 metres or 20.5 seconds (whichever is reached first), or part thereof, the distance travelled is less than 9,656.1 metres there is a charge of 20p
- Once the distance has reached 9,656.1 metres then there is a charge of 20p for each additional 86.9 metres or 18.7 seconds (whichever is reached first), or part thereof
Tariff 3 — Daily, 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. or at any time on public holidays
- For the first 162.4 metres or 35 seconds (whichever is reached first) there is a minimum charge of £2.60
- For each additional 81.2 metres or 17.5 seconds (whichever is reached first), or part thereof, the distance travelled is less than 9,656.1 metres there is a charge of 20p
- Once the distance has reached 9,656.1 metres then there is a charge of 20p for each additional 86.9 metres or 18.7 seconds (whichever is reached first)
The following additional charges may apply, and must be added to the meter at the start of the journey.
- Telephone and online bookings — A fee of £2 will be added to all bookings made online or by telephone.
- Heathrow Airport departure —All trips beginning at Heathrow Airport will be subject to an additional charge of £2.80.
- Christmas & New Year — A charge of £4 will be added to trips made between 8 p.m. on December 24 and 6 a.m. on December 27, or between 8 p.m. on December 31 and 6 a.m. on January 2.
- Cleaning charge — Drivers may charge up to £40 for cleaning the taxi if the passenger vomits or otherwise soils the vehicle.
Complicated, right? Taxis for London offers a chart of typical taxi fares based on distance and time via its website. Here are a few ranges from that chart, based on difference and with the price range based on the different tariffs.
- 1 mile journey — £6 to £9.40
- 2 miles journey — £9 to £15
- 4 miles journey — £16 to £28
- 6 miles journey — £24 to £34
- Heathrow Airport to Central London — £48 to £90
Cab fares aren’t cheap in London, which is why you may want to consider public transportation.
Reserve a Wheelchair Accessible London Taxi
As mentioned earlier, it is easy to hail a cab in Central London. If you are outside Central London or face difficulty in hailing a cab, you can also place an order by telephone. A full list of taxi cab companies operating in and around London is available at on the TfL website.
The following companies service all areas of the City of London:
+44 0207 908 0207 (cash bookings)
+44 0207 432 1432 (credit/debit card bookings)
+44 020 7253 5000
+44 0871 871 8710
+44 020 7272 0272
Remember to note that you will require a wheelchair accessible taxi when you call, just to be safe.
Wheelchair Accessible Uber in London
I recently tested Uber Access in London and found the vehicles to be very accessible. The wheelchair accessible Uber Access vehicles in London are equipped with a rear-entry ramp and securement restraints. These features allowed me to ride safely and comfortably. This mirrors my experience riding uberWAV in Washington, D.C., where the service and vehicles are both nice.
The wait time was excessive (about 20 minutes), but this could be preferable to riding in the cramped quarters of a black cab. If the wait for a wheelchair accessible Uber is more than 5 minutes and I can get a black cab on the spot, I’d rather get on my way.
If you would like to try Uber for yourself, download the app on your iPhone or Android mobile device. Apply the promo code johnm82489ue during sign-up and you’ll receive $5 off each of your first four rides with Uber. I will also receive a $10 credit for referring you. You don’t have to use my code, but I will appreciate it if you do!
If you have visited London and used any other private hire transportation services that are wheelchair accessible and not mentioned here, please let me know in the comments below!