Tuesday, 30 January 2007 12:00 AM
Trying to hail a cab in a foreign part of the world but not knowing the customs can be frustrating.
However, international taxi specialists Businesstaxis are offering holidaymakers some top tips on taxi customs across the world.
"In Hong Kong, there are three types of taxis, painted in different colours, serving different parts of the territory. The most common one is painted in red. Most taxis are Toyota Crown Comfort. The red taxi serves throughout Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. Green taxis serve the New Territories and blue taxis serve Lantau Island," said Steve Waller of Businesstaxis.
Holidaymakers catching a cab in Japan should note licensed taxis have green number plates. As for telling when it is for hire, cab drivers will put a green plate in the lower corner of the windshield. If the plate is red then the cab is not available.
Mr Waller added: "In Japan when you board a taxi, note that the vehicle's left rear door is opened and closed remotely by the driver. You are not supposed to open or close it by yourself."
Catching one of New York's famous yellow cabs may be on most visitors' check lists, but working out if it is for hire can be confusing.
"In New York every cab has a light on top, visible from front and back, that indicates whether it is available for hire," Mr Waller explained.
"On that light you'll see a series of letters and numbers (the cab's registration number). If those letters and numbers are illuminated, the cab is available; if they're not, the cab is not available. But here's the tricky part: When cabbies go off duty, they turn on another part of the same light that says 'Off Duty' which to the untrained eye - or from a distance - makes it look as if the cab is still available."
Getting a cab going in the right direction in Johannesburg in South Africa also has its own customs.
"Pointing your index finger upwards generally means you are looking for a taxi travelling to the Johannesburg city centre. To stop a taxi travelling around a township (called local), you draw a circle in the air with your finger pointing downwards," Mr Waller advised.