Cab safety is a hot topic in Mexico City guidebooks. Most recommend visitors only ride in taxis booked through the authorized sitio stands that are sprinkled throughout the city. This is great advice, providing you can find a sitio stand.
Mexico City is huge. And it’s not designed for tourists like many other major world cities. There are no pretty “you are here” maps. Entrance signs are hard to find. And good luck finding any information in English.
You will undoubtedly find yourself walking in circles, cursing yourself for not entering any sitio stand numbers in your phone, and wanting to just hail a cab and get on with your trip already.
While the interwebs may scare one into believing an unauthorized cab ride will end in a robbery, express kidnapping or the like, we hailed multiple cabs during our trip with zero incident.
Our research showed that cabs that met the following requirements were generally safe:
- Driver’s license in the back window. Authorized (read: “safe”) cabs will have a picture of the driver, complete with his or her name, thumbprint and license expiration date in one of the car’s windows.
- A license plate that starts with A or B. Look for the same number printed on the dashboard in front of the passenger seat.
- A working taximeter.
Following the above recommendations sounds easy enough. But Mexico City traffic is crazy. Lanes appear to be suggestions. Stop signs seem optional.
It’s hard to tell if a cab has a picture of the driver on the back window when it’s zipping by at 45 miles per hour.
To overcome this, Greg and I developed a system for hailing cabs. He would stand about 100 feet away from me, a little further upstream in the flow of traffic. When he saw a cab whiz by him with the proper safety documentation he would signal for me to flag it down.
It worked. Sometimes.
As our trip wore on and we became more comfortable in the city, we “risked it” and jumped in a few cabs that didn’t have the driver’s license visible. We might have been lucky. Or maybe the dangers of Mexico City cabs are over-hyped.
One trick we learned was to look for taxis that were in the process of dropping off their previous customers. Hey, if the driver didn’t kill/rob them then we’ll be okay.